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British scientists are leading a project with the European Space Agency (ESA) to study a speeding comet when it's ventures through our cosmic neighbourhood.
The 'Comet Interceptor' is part of the space agency's Cosmic Vision programme and will be set in a standby orbit, where it will wait for the comet to fly past.
Comet - Interceptor - Spacecraft - Comprising - Mothership
The Comet Interceptor is actually a triple spacecraft comprising of a mothership and two sub-craft that will lie in wait while astronomers on Earth track possible targets.
It hopes to launching eight years time and will study a comet that has drifted inwards from the outer solar system in the hope it sheds light on the solar system's formative stages.
ESA - Triple - Spacecraft - Mission
The ESA announced that they will begin building the triple spacecraft for the mission, which is set to launch in 2028.
Comets from the Oort Cloud at the edge of the solar system pass by Earth, but by the time they are spotted, they don't have much time to catch up to them.
ESA - Giotto - Probe - Halley - Comet
The first was ESA's Giotto probe that flew by Halley's Comet on March 13, 1986, but there have been many others since then, including the Rosetta probe landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2016.
However, these comets have been burned by the Sun so many times that their characteristics have been sharply altered.
Comet - Missions - Rosetta - Comet - Interceptor
Unlike previous comet missions, like Rosetta, the Comet Interceptor will have a chance to take images and measurements of the object before it has been subjected to the sun's heat.
The unmanned Interceptor will stop about...
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