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.
If there is one specialty that European engineers can be proud of, it is the exploration of comets. Everyone remembers the legendary missionaround in 2014 and there was also which flew over the famous in 1986 and Comet Grigg-Skellerup in 1992.
Building on this experience, the European Space Agency () will build the Comet Interceptor mission, a probe that will set off to study a comet or one . The spacecraft will take off in 2029 as a secondary passenger of the future European . A rocket 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 placesin the . It could also come from the afterlife, that is, from the interstellar medium. The ideal is that this object penetrates ours 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. ‘ . Powerful observers, such as the it 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 by(jaxa). Weighing less than a ton, the mission resulting from the program ESA is said to be “fast” in of development. Comet Interceptor will position itself first around the target to study it and get a 3D view. Then, the sub-satellites will study the nucleus and the . 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.