British engineers have reportedly begin working on a new spacecraft that would lie in wait for passing comets and chase them down, mapping their surfaces in three dimensions. Rightly called the ‘comet chaser’, the mission will not only record the details of the comets’ contours but will also take down the composition of gases and dust that is released as they hurtle through the space.
CEO of Thales Alenia Space, Andrew Stanniland, stated that the venture is going to be fascinating, adding that most comets that are seen have been through the solar system several times, which means that they are altered by the sun. The mission will reportedly enable the company to have a spacecraft in orbit so that it could catch a pristine object. This endeavor will give Thales science about the history of the solar system that humanity has never had before, added Stanniland.
Proposed by an international team guided by UCL, Edinburgh University, and others, the Comet Interceptor spacecraft represents the first of the ‘fast’ missions of the European Space Agency. The entire mission weighs less than a tonne and must take a lift into the space on a rocket, that has already been lined up for launch. The spacecraft will take off in 2028 alongside the Ariel space telescope, a UK-backed mission of the European Space Agency for studying the atmospheres of alien planets revolving around distant stars.
With the Comet Interceptor, astronomers are hopeful of getting to a comet before it becomes active by enabling the twin robotic probes, each measuring up to 30 cm long, to analyze and map the pristine comet nucleus that would otherwise remain unclear.
Apparently, the spacecraft will advance for a gravitational void on the reverse side of the Earth toward the sun. By hanging out at this Lagrange point, where the gravitational forces tend to make things stay put, the mission could await for its quarry while utilizing a minimum amount of fuel.