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Jun 13, 2022

Comet Interceptor approved for construction

Posted by in category: space

ESA’s Comet Interceptor mission to visit a pristine comet or other interstellar object just starting its journey into the inner solar system has been “adopted” this week; the study phase is complete and, following selection of the spacecraft prime contractor, work will soon begin to build the mission.

Comet Interceptor will share a ride into space with ESA’s Ariel exoplanet in 2029. The mission will build upon the successes of Rosetta and Giotto, ESA missions that both visited “short-period” comets. Though these missions completely transformed our understanding of comets, their targets had already swung around the sun many times and had therefore changed significantly since their creation.

Comet Interceptor aims to scrutinize a comet that has spent little time in the inner solar system, or is possibly visiting it for the first time. Whilst Rosetta’s target hailed from the rocky Kuiper Belt just beyond Neptune, Comet Interceptor’s could originate from the vast Oort Cloud, more than a thousand times further from the sun.

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