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We will visit a new comet!

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On 8 June, the European Space Agency gave the green light to start construction of the probe Comet Interceptor. The study phase of the mission is now over, but before moving on to construction, ESA must first choose the industrialist who will be the chief contractor. Take off in 2029.

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[EN VIDÉO] Rosetta: his last hours around comet Tchouri
Attention, masterpiece and guaranteed emotions! ESA takes us back to the Rosetta spacecraft’s final close passes around Comet Tchouri before it crashed to its surface. We can admire in high resolution the surprising details of the icy surface of the star that has accompanied and observed for two years. It is truly exceptional!

If there is one specialty that European engineers can be proud of, it is the exploration of comets. Everyone remembers the legendary mission Rosette around comet Tchouri in 2014 and there was also Giotto which flew over the famous Halley’s comet in 1986 and Comet Grigg-Skellerup in 1992.

Building on this experience, the European Space Agency (ESA) will build the Comet Interceptor mission, a probe that will set off to study a comet or one interstellar object of the type of ‘Oumuamua. The spacecraft will take off in 2029 as a secondary passenger of the future space telescope European Ariel. A rocket Ariadne 6 it will send both of them to the Lagrange point L2 of the Earth-Sun system. This is where she will be waiting for her hitherto unknown target, and for good reason: it has yet to be found.

A probe that … awaits its destination

Comet Interceptor’s target is a very rare type of object, coming from remote places our solar systemin the Oort cloud. It could also come from the afterlife, that is, from the interstellar medium. The ideal is that this object penetrates ours Solar system for the first time in his life. These objects are unpredictable today when it comes to knowing their arrival date and can land as surprise as it did. ‘Oumuamua. Powerful observers, such as the Vera Rubinit will be used to detect the target early enough for the Comet Interceptor to leave its location and cross its path.

Comet Interceptor will be equipped with a dozen instruments for the study of the surface, as well as two sub-satellites, one of which will be provided byJapanese space agency (jaxa). Weighing less than a ton, the mission resulting from the program Cosmic vision ESA is said to be “fast” in it matters of development. Comet Interceptor will position itself first orbit around the target to study it and get a 3D view. Then, the sub-satellites will study the nucleus and the comet tail. Scientists hope to find new materials, dating back to the birth of the Solar System, which will allow us to learn more about its history.

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