Since the start of life, humans have looked to the sky to estimate time, navigate oceans, decide when to plant their crops, and many other purposes. The sky’s significance in our lives since the old-time intrigued the people to explore its vastness and complexity.
Over time science has evolved so much that humans got new instruments and machines to see various astronomical phenomena. Especially, the last century has seen massive progress in Astronomy.
Astronomers developed telescopes, satellites, rockets, and airspaces to explore the various planets and study the universe’s immensity. However, these inventions did not quench the human’s curiosity to explore the universe, and astronomers are now trying to navigate celestial bodies formed billions of years ago.
Recently a new development happened when the United Kingdom’s engineers announced the creation of a comet chasing spacecraft.
The purpose of Comet Interceptor
According to A Guardian report, engineers in Bristol and Oxford shire will design a comet chasing spacecraft for three-dimensional tracking and mapping celestial bodies.
The European Space Agency planned the mission in June 2019 to build a compact and active spacecraft. The main reason behind the Comet Interceptor’s mission is to collect information about a pristine comet that is moving towards our solar system.
Thales Alenia Space UK won the contract to design the mothership, and it will have two smaller Japanese robotic probes. The mothership will release these robotic probes when it comes close to any comet. The released probe will collect the data from that comet by sending its 3-D images back to the mothership.
The report further stated that the spacecraft, named “Comet Interceptor,” will be launched in 2028, and it will move towards gravitational no man’s land, just opposite side of the earth. It will be released without any target, and it will wait until it finds any suitable target to explore.
According to Amanda Solloway, the mission would reveal the universe’s hidden mysteries, according to the UK’s science minister. Further, the spacecraft would navigate various celestial objects from Oort cloud comets to cigar-shaped asteroid Oumuamua.
Moreover, the Comet Interceptor mission will be entirely different from previous ones as they studied the comets in short orbits around the sun. Their activity was significantly affected by sunlight and heat. Apart from sunlight, the dust grains present in comets had been another danger for spacecraft.
Comet Interceptor would not be affected by dust grains as it will stay 1000 km from a comet nucleus and released two smaller probes to investigate comets from proximity.
What people are saying about Comet Interceptor
#CometInterceptor science mission will reveal information about pristine comets entering the inner Solar System or an interstellar object passing through it. Proud that our @Thales_Alenia_S colleagues in the #UK were selected by @esa to lead this one-of-a-kind study. @spacegovuk https://t.co/tsYvaxZhYJ— Hervé DERREY (@HDerrey) December 15, 2020
As our mission's scientific payload matures, so does the Comet Interceptor whisky – a very generous gift from @HolyroodWhisky to the mission's science team. This unofficial side project took a big step forward this week, with the filling of the cask. pic.twitter.com/OJVyFCHcbE— CometInterceptor (@CometIntercept) December 4, 2020
Congratulations again to our colleagues in Japan on the astounding success of Hayabusa-2 in bringing back to Earth samples of an asteroid! https://t.co/BBzFDPwLsS— CometInterceptor (@CometIntercept) December 24, 2020
Comet interceptor is another glimpse of the breathtaking scientific revolution that is taking place at a faster pace. Although engineers started to build the spacecraft, we have to wait eight more years to see the astonishing images of comets captured by Comet intercept.