This view of Comet C / 2012 S1 or ISON was captured in November 2013 by the TRAPPIST – South telescope at La Silla at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. The comet ISON is a dynamically new comet that probably begins its journey to the inner solar system of the Oort Cloud, a spherical shell of ice objects between 2000 and 100,000 astronomical units from the sun. A new mission, chosen by the European Space Agency this week to launch in 2028, will be the first to capture a new comet or interstellar object, fresh from the frozen depths of the external solar system or beyond.
 It consists of three spacecraft, the Commemorative Catch mission will reach space with the ESR Space Telescope ESI in 2028 and will travel nearly one million miles (1.5 million kilometers) from the Earth until astronomers find it the right comet, coming from the deep cosmos to the sun. 19659003] Driven by scientists in the United Kingdom, Comet Interceptor aims to become the first spacecraft to get a close-up of a "dynamically new" comet, an object that has not passed near the sun before that. So far, spacecraft have only visited comets that have repeated passages near the sun, where solar radiation and heating destroy the ice and other materials left since the birth of the Solar System about 4.5 billion years ago. The comets sought by the Comet are in the Oort Cloud, a spherical shell of ice objects located between 200 billion miles (320 billion kilometers) and 9 trillion miles (14 trillion kilometers) of the sun. Scientists believe collisions or close encounters in the Oort cloud sometimes send frozen objects to the sun.
"We expect to see something that has a real virgin surface that has not had a chance to develop," said Colin Snodgrass, an astronomer at Edinburgh University and deputy head of the Comet Interceptor. "All of the comets we've come to are short comets, and that's because we had to know where they would be, and know the orbit well enough to plan the mission … They all go around the inner solar system a very long period of time. "
Comet 67P / Churumov-Gerasimenko, perhaps the most famous comet after a detailed study of the mission of ESA Rosetta, is a regular visitor to the internal solar system. It ends an orbit around the Sun every six and a half years.
"One of the things we saw with Rosette was the amount of dust that fell back on the surface of the kernel," said Sandgrass interview with Spaceflight Now. "We saw all these evolutionary features. The difference here is that for the first time we go to something that feels the warmth of the sun. "
If scientists are lucky, the telescopes could find an incoming object that came from outside our solar system. In 2017, astronomers first discovered an interstellar object that passes through the Solar System.
Two of the most famous comets discovered during the last decade, known as the C / 2012 S1 (ISON), have been found only on the outgoing foot of its trajectory, leaving little time for telescopic observations, ) and C / 2013 A1 (Siding Spring) were discovered less than two years before they reached the perihelion or their closest point to the sun. Interplanetary probes usually need five years or longer to develop from scratch.
Comet Interceptor will solve this dilemma by embarking on a space-retention model ready to respond to a new discovery. are totally unexplored and create compelling targets for exploring nearby spacecraft to better understand the diversity and evolution of comets, "said Gunther Hasinger, Director of ESA, in a press release. "Giotto and Rosetta's tremendous scientific achievements – our hereditary missions to comets – are unsurpassed, but now it's time to build on our successes and visit a virgin comet or be ready for the next" Ouwamu-like interstellar object ".
Credit: Muller Space College and London University College
After launching the Ariane 62 missile in ARIEL's telescope tandem, tri-space ship The Comet Interceptor mission will travel to Lagrange point L2, a point of the gravitational balance that is nearly one million miles from the night side of the Earth.
"We must have a comet that is in the right place," said Snowgrass. "We think it will take a couple of years – five years – to wait for one to find the one that will be available with the fuel we have on board."
The United States Large Weather Station or LSST Construction in Chile will be crucial to finding a comet destination for the interceptor mission, "Snowgross said. The new telescope will begin regular science operations by the end of 2022 and will depict the entire visible sky every few nights, discovering smaller asteroids and comets from the sun further than ever. the fact that we will conduct the LSST study until we have to find a comet, "he said.
With the beginning of the LSST study, Snodgrass said scientists expect to find comets with up to five or six years of warning before they reach the perihelion, the closest point to the sun in their trajectories
"That's enough time to really explore it, map the trajectory and get there," he said. and will come out of the L2 point Lagrange, fine tuning his approach to fly smaller In the weeks before take-off, the Comet Interceptor will be divided into three spaceships – European camera art, scientific instruments, propulsion systems and communications, and two subsidiary satellites, each with its own sensors , provided by ESA and Japanese Space
"It is designed to give us a 3D picture, not just the coma but also the core and the solar wind," said Snowgrass to Spaceflight Now. "We never did a mission before. With Rosetta we had all these incredible measurements, but we can only be in one place at a time.
In the rare possibility that astronomers can not find a mission for the Comet Interceptor mission, scientists will direct the probe to fly from an already-known comet with a short period called Comet 73P / Schwassmann-Wachmann, which began to collapse in 1995 and has never been visited by a spacecraft.
The capture comet will use the excess capacity of the Ariane 62 missile designed to launch the ARIEL Telescope, which will study the atmosphere of the planets around other stars.
ESA has published a call for proposals in July 2018 for a new F-class or a fast-track space mission that can be ready to start with ARIEL In 2028, the space agency received 23 proposals, then took out the list to six finalists before choosing the Comet Interceptor mission on Wednesday as the winner of the race.
An international scientific team led by Geraint Jones of Mu's Space Science Laboratory at University College London presented the Comet's proposal for interception. The triple spacecraft mission will weigh less than 1900 pounds, or about 850 kilograms, fully fueled for launch, according to Snuggras.
"It starts next week," Snowgross said. – I already have meetings on the ESA website in the Netherlands and they are starting a survey with their engineers. For ESA, this is a very fast pace. "
This diagram illustrates the Kuiper Belt, where Pluto and other ice worlds are, and the farther cloud Oort. Credit: ESA
ESA's cost limit for the Comet Interceptor mission is 150 million euros, or about $ 170 million at current exchange rates. But this is not relevant to the contribution of instruments coming from ESA, Japan or NASA member states.
Like the Comet Interceptor, the ARIEL Telescope Science Team is led by researchers in the UK. The community has impressed ESA with a vision of what a small, fast science mission can offer, "said Chris Lee, head of scientific programs at the UK Space Agency. "In 1986, the UK-led mission in the Kaley Comet became the first to observe the Communist core, and British scientists took part in another iconic European mission of the comet, Rosetta. Now our scientists will build on this impressive legacy by trying to visit a virgin comet for the first time and learning more about the origin of our solar system. "
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