back to article The European Space Agency is going to visit a new comet in 2028. Which one? We haven't discovered it yet

The European Space Agency is embarking on a new mission to a faraway comet floating on the outer edges of the Solar System that is yet to be discovered. The mission dubbed "Comet Interceptor" was chosen as part of ESA's Cosmic Vision programme, a series of long term projects launching between 2015 and 2025. Three spacecraft …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Proper science !

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      For AIState Side Prime Orderly Orders .... into Exercising AIMaster Cog Keys*

      Does success there herald miracles were/are always available upon valid request? Or are they to be Heavenly Desired and Virtually Delivered Much Sooner in Future Scriptures to Follow/Realise/Project onto/into Any Communicative Device System.

      Be Careful out there in Space. There be Daemons and Fiends that Foster Friends to Fester and Degrade Hunting to Just Extinction a prize not to be well deserved and mutually beneficial.

      *Vital Bits

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: For AIState Side Prime Orderly Orders .... into Exercising AIMaster Cog Keys*

        "Be Careful out there in Space. There be Daemons and Fiends"

        Post proof or retract.

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: For AIState Side Prime Orderly Orders .... into Exercising AIMaster Cog Keys*

          "Be Careful out there in Space. There be Daemons and Fiends"

          Post proof or retract. ...... jake

          What more proof does one need, jake, than the conflict and CHAOS and wars and rebellions which abound and rebound all around.

          Do you think there be the likes of a Virtually Real Resistance with Effective AIMaquisard .... Heavily into Daemons and Fiends that Foster Friends to Fester and Degrade Hunting?

          Oh, and are your communications networks providing them ready direct access to their almighty arsenal of weapons and rich targets?

          And to save on a great waste of brainpower, is the correct answer to all of those questions a highly disturbing and extremely disruptive and most unambiguous ..... Yes, of course, why ever not?

          1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

            Re: For AIState Side Prime Orderly Orders .... into Exercising AIMaster Cog Keys*

            Nah, but there be pirates – space pirates – and they be after Spanish gold. (Well, Spain is a member of the ESA and spacecraft are traditionally covered in gold foil.)

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: For AIState Side Prime Orderly Orders .... into Exercising AIMaster Cog Keys*

            That's not proof, amfM. That's conjecture.

            And it's somewhat Earth-centric. I believe you said "out there in space", which starts (by international convention) at the Kármán line ... That's 100km up (about 62 miles), if Martians don't speak Hungarian.

  2. 0laf Silver badge
    Pint

    "the spacecraft is nothing but a pile of debris after it was ordered to crash headfirst into the comet in September 2016"

    Not really. It 'crashed' at 2mph. Any faster and it probably would have bounced off. I suspect it's very much in one piece unless it's been dislodged by outgassing.

    However, pints for science! Yay.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Space Quest for F-Zero One

    "Initially, the three probes will travel together as one larger composite spacecraft before they split into separate modules."

    Guys, you're supposed to join the spaceships together to make a giant robot, not split it into smaller spacecraft. You just can't get the staff these days...

  4. sitta_europea

    Katyanna, please think before you make offensive comments in your headlines.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      In what way was it offensive?

      C.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Methinks ...

        ... someone has inhaled a trifle too much cosmik debris.

        Or perhaps they are calling attention to the misunderstood, un-studied and generally ignored Mars Trojans and the like? I mean, the obvious pro-Oortness of this mission is clearly to the detriment of the other bits & bobs floating around out there. INNER SYSTEM ROCKS MATTER!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Artist's concept of a comet travelling towards the inner Solar System.

    The artist needs to learn some basic astronomical facts about the relative sizes and distance between the planets and the Sun...

    Yes OK, artistic licence, but come on, there are limits.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Artist's concept of a comet travelling towards the inner Solar System.

      One of the Unis has got planet models on its path out to its observatory, and the distance between them is scaled to the size of the models. I am trying to remember which Uni it was. Possibly York. Someone will know.

      Anyway, fair old number of strides between them.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Artist's concept of a comet travelling towards the inner Solar System.

        Scale Solar System Model in your browser here.

        Bookmark this one for next time a grade-school kid asks you how big space is ... it doesn't exactly depict all of space, of course, but it's a start.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Artist's concept of a comet travelling towards the inner Solar System.

          That is truly a wonderful model. My mind is boggled. The author's comments are a high point.

          Footnote: the alternate units of measurement have a lot in common with the El Reg's standards.

          Have one of these for posting it. --------->

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Artist's concept of a comet travelling towards the inner Solar System.

        Here you go...

        https://www.york.ac.uk/solar/

        Fairly easy cycle ride - starts near the race course and is essentially flat

        - gets a bit busy during the summer with runners & dog-walkers.

        1. jake Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Artist's concept of a comet travelling towards the inner Solar System.

          Thanks, AC ... I'll be visiting next time I'm in Yorkshire :-)

          This round's on me ... best bitter, of course.

    2. EarthCitizen

      Re: Artist's concept of a comet travelling towards the inner Solar System.

      And you need to learn/understand the practicalities of drawing astronomical objects and distances to scale. Your screen would need to be the size of 100 football fields. So, get real! It's only an artistic impression.

  6. hekla

    2019 K1 would be perfect, but uncatchable

    It is a pristine once only visitor to the solar system with e=1.06

    https://www.minorplanetcenter.net/mpec/K19/K19K13.html

    1. Bill Gray

      Re: 2019 K1 would be perfect, but uncatchable

      That was the initial orbit, at a point where the eccentricity was quite uncertain (but was almost certainly parabolic or elliptical; the e=1.06 orbit never should have been published.) Further observations improved the orbit; with current data, e=1.002 +/- 0.005. And it'll pass perihelion in February 2020; the idea here is to catch an object _before_ perihelion.

      Aside from that, this is about as good as we're apt to get. We've found exactly one truly interstellar object thus far (`Oumuamua, in October 2017). They don't appear to be common.

  7. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Boffin

    Can you actually tell if a comet is pristine or not?

    If you want a pristine frozen piece of the Oort cloud, shouldn't your mission go out there to get said piece? Otherwise, aren't you risking that your "pristine" comet has actually made numerous trips into the inner solar system, but just not in a timeframe or with a level of ostentatious display that was detectable by modern science?

    Obviously, getting out to the Oort cloud means a tremendously long journey, but NASA's New Horizon probe shows that it can be done and that great science can be retrieved by a craft at that distance from the Earth. You'd have to work out how to get a probe out there at speed, and still be able to orbit or land on a proto-comet, which sounds like no mean trick. However, I would think that would be the only way to make sure you have a pristine sample instead of one that has been compromised by one or more run-ins with the Sun.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Can you actually tell if a comet is pristine or not?

      Well it certainly won't be pristine any more once they've smacked various craft into it...

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Can you actually tell if a comet is pristine or not?

        Besides, once you've got out there and found your little piece of contaminated ice, how do you know it hasn't made a couple dozen trips inwards before finally having its orbit perturbed into long-term parking?

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