We plan to meet with Halley’s comet




If you do not take into account the weather on other planets, sometimes volcanic activity and solar flares, our solar system can be called a fairly quiet place for astronomers. planets and the moon follow their orbits, subject to the strict law of gravity. 300 years ago, Sir Edmond Halley first scientifically determined that the comet are the dark horses for us. They come and go, subject to transformations and should be able to fly extremely close to our bubbling sun.

On the calendar – the end of November, where we are waiting for a close encounter with the sun, but the planetary community hypnotized comet ISON. Her journey is monitored at different points in its orbit by numerous ground-based and space-based telescopes.

What could be better?

Imagine being able to fly in a duet with an icy nucleus of a comet (which is not that much different from the core of the asteroid, it should be noted), like a fighter pilot, accompanied by the leader of the column. The spacecraft will transmit daily reports on changes in the effervescent surface of a comet. The probe will monitor the eruption of icy geysers and other unpredictable cold fireworks, that will appear as the ice core will be warmed our sun.

Surveillance around the clock seven days a week, can not be ensured for a comet ISON, since it was discovered only a year ago. Interceptor and sensor companion to stand in a clean hangar, ready to launch and support.

It turns out that a rendezvous with the comet should be focused on a comet’s orbit is well known to us with a short period. Such a comet would not be as exciting as the scientific community, as the same ISON, because it will make a lot of trips around the sun, and will be “heat treated” – will lose a lot of ice.

However, the ideal goal for us – Halley’s Comet.

The first historical mention of the comet goes back to 446 AD one of the ancient records. A friend of Isaac Newton Edmond Halley first realized that this comet is periodic. Comet analysis showed that the comet appeared in 1531, 1607 and 1682 by almost the same orbit, and its appearance was separated periods of about 75 years. Using the laws of gravity, derived friend, Halley accurately predicted the next appearance of a comet in 1758. Unfortunately, Halley died in 1742 and never knew whether his predictions have come true.

The last time Halley’s comet was observed with the naked eye, people living in 1986, and its farthest point from the Sun, it will reach 9 December 2023 at a distance of 3.3 billion kilometers. Then she will go back again to the sun, like an arrow, a second hanged at the highest point of its path.

The comet will be visible from Earth at the end of July 2061 and will be held at 90 million kilometers from Earth. Although Halley’s Comet is not as interesting as ISON, celebrity status can help build public support and, therefore, political. Unfortunately, in the 1970s, this plan did not work, when NASA tried one stroke to master and Mars and Venus on a crest of popularity of “Apollo.” Moreover, in those years, much of the U.S. budget eaten “shuttles”, so the evangelists of any space mission had to fight for every dollar.

In 1970, options were also offered to organize a meeting with Comet Halley. The propulsion system on the solar sail, required the probe’s comet, was rejected. Funding went to the Compton Observatory (launched in 1991). According to the former director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Bill Murray (who died on August 29 of this year), President Jimmy Carter was so fascinated by black holes, that was entirely for funding the study of this direction. To hell with the comet.

It is difficult to say how the rest of the U.S. space program in the next decade, but if we are optimistic, and suggest that space technology will advance enough in 2060 for a mission to Halley’s Comet, the need is quite trivial and almost ready components. You can select any number of those probes that are designed to study asteroids .

It should just say, that need powerful propulsion system that will be able to develop a speed equal to the speed of the comet. Most likely, it will be nuclear missiles that meter by meter probe will push much more powerful than chemical propulsion.

No doubt the designers will make the mission work on Mother Nature by running the probe’s comet to Jupiter or Saturn. There will probe the orbital angular momentum in any of these massive husky that not only add boat in speed, but also spices up the course. And then – a comet flying to the sun.

Let’s imagine how it will look perfect execution of such a mission. In mid-2060 the probe reaches the cold and inactive nucleus of Comet Halley. Distance – several hundred million kilometers from the Sun. After the meeting, the probe is a safe position at a distance from the core size of 60 square kilometers, to avoid being buried under the sand, when he will be exposed to the scorching sun. The probe must fly forward in the form of peanut kernels, upstream from the tail of dust and gas that is directed strictly to the Sun.

Onboard artificial intelligence does its thing with minimal ground controllers. The wide-angle camera continuously transmits a picture of a comet. Spectrometers are looking for active areas in the cortex, fixing cracks or other geysers, of which gas will shoot a rocket exhaust.

The probe produces a certain amount of nanobots satellites, which descend to the surface of the comet and will examine its icy skin. “Spiders” will also gather materials for chemical analysis, will seek signs of life, they will laugh at this joke.

The probe will stay close to the comet, even when it flies back to the outer solar system. Since it is equipped with nuclear engine, the flight can last for decades. Space robot will diligently follow the comet until its return to the 2134, you probably would not find.

It is impossible to predict whether the comet is interesting for our grandchildren in 2134. Suddenly, we shall find enough information about comets to completely forget about them. The only motivation for another meeting may be catching a probe in 2061 and awarded him the Medal of Honor for bravery. Still, it will be a celebrity – a descendant of the Golden Age of solar system exploration. It is as if we have been able to return the “Voyager” on Earth.
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Tags: Universe , probes , Comets , Solar System .

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