Could we send a space mission to a comet?
I recall reading an Arthur Clarke novel titled "2061". The novel revolved around a manned mission to interface with Halley's Comet. How feasible is such a mission?
We have actually already sent a spacecraft to Halley's comet. During the mid 1980s Halley made one of its visits to the inner solar system and five spacecraft were sent to intercept it. The most famous was called Giotto.
Since then, we have sent several missions to comets. In 1999, NASA launched Stardust, which traveled through the coma (part of the tail) of comet Wild 2 and returned samples to Earth in 2006.
NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft was launched in January 2005 and reached the comet Tempel 1 on July 4, 2005. Deep Impact was the first mission to blast a crater in a comet and observe the results! The mission revealed that the comet was much dustier and less icy than expected. The Stardust mission will fly-by Tempel 1 in 2014 to photograph the crater, while Deep Impact travels on to observe comet Boethin sometime in the next decade.
Finally, the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission, launched in 2004, will orbit and land on a comet sometime in 2014.
Check out the links above for more information about these missions.
Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:
- Podcast? Subscribe? Tell me about the Ask an Astronomer Podcast
- Subscribe to our Podcast | Listen to our current Episode
- Cool! But I can't now. Send me a quick reminder now for later.
- Could we send a manned mission to the outer planets?
- What is the farthest in space that we have gone?
How to ask a question:
If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist
This page has been accessed 24132 times since September 18, 2002.
Last modified: September 6, 2007 10:32:47 AM
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.
Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)