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Comet Interceptor – How fast science is evolving

Long before the Comet Interceptor was ever dreamt up, 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.

Introduction

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.

As a parent, I am always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to make my parenting experience better. After learning about the ESA Comet Interceptor, I was intrigued by its potential to help shield Earth from comets that might be on a collision course with our planet. This device is designed to intercept and divert any hazardous comet before it can reach Earth in order to prevent catastrophic loss of life or property. The ESA Comet Interceptor offers us hope not just as parents but also as citizens of this great planet Earth.

In March of 2020, NASA will launch the first-ever space mission to intercept an asteroid. The mission is called the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) and it’s goal is to redirect a near-Earth asteroid into lunar orbit where astronauts can explore it and return with samples for scientific research.

The goal of this ARM project is not only to collect samples from an asteroid, but also test technology that could one day be used in future planetary defense missions. This May, NASA unveiled its plan for what’s known as the Comet Interceptor – a spacecraft that would rendezvous with a comet nucleus at about 10 km per second before splitting off and crashing into dust particles left behind by the comet. It may sound like science fiction but this remarkable invention is real.

The ESA Comet Interceptor is an important new technology being developed in Europe at the European Space Agency’s (ESA) research center in Noordwijk, Netherlands. It is intended for use against space hazards such as asteroids

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.

illustrated representation of comet interceptor taking off through the atmosphere

What people are saying about Comet Interceptor

Conclusion

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.

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