Comet Space Missions
Historic Comet Space Missions
- International Comet Explorer (ICE) (Nasa), formerly ISEE-3:
passed comet Giacobini-Zinner in 1985 (first comet flyby), distant
observations of Halley 1986.
ISEE-3/ICE information from NSSDC
(did you know this was once designated Explorer 59 ?);
ICE page (JPL Stardust server)
- The following probes passed Comet Halley in 1986:
- Deep Space 1 (Nasa):
Launched from Cape Canaveral on October 24, 1998 by a Delta-2 rocket;
this rocket also crried to orbit
SEDSAT-1, an experimental
science and technology satellite built by the
University of Alabama at Huntsville Chapter of SEDS.
DS1 was originally scheduled to be launched on July 1, 1998, to fly by comet
West-Kohoutek-Ikemura in 2000 as well as Amor (Mars-crossing) asteroid 3352
Due to launch delay, new targets had to be selected; see
press release for details:
Asteroid 9969 Braille (previously known as 1992 KD) was passed at a distance
of 15 km on July 29, 1999 at 04:45 UT, and DS1 is now on course to encounter
comets Wilson-Harrington (in January 2001) and Borrelly (September 2001).
Wilson-Harrington is of interest as it has ceased to behave like a comet and
now looks like an asteroid (was dubbed 1979VA), while Borelly is one of the
most active short-period comets.
DS-1 is part of Nasa's
New Millennium Program.
DS-1 info from NSSDC.
Stardust was successfully launched on February 7, 1999 21:04 UT (16:04 EST).
It is scheduled to return samples from Comet Wild 2's coma collected during
encounter in January 2004, return a reentry capsule to Earth in January 2006.
Stardust homepage (JPL);
Stardust info (NSSDC)
Scheduled Future Comet Missions
- Nasa's Comet Halley 1986 Mission
- CRAF (Comet Rendezvous Asteroid Flyby), was to be launched 1995
and fly by comet Kopff in August 2000, after having passed by
asteroid Hamburga in June 1998. Was to be the first new-design Mariner
Mark II spacecraft.
CRAF info from NSSDC
Other Missions Doing Comet Research
These missions have primarily other objectives but are also used for comet
- Galileo: Observed comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact
- Ulysses: Comet studies included Shoemaker-Levy 9
astronomy satellites (including IRAS, Hubble Space Telescope, Rosat,
and several Space Shuttle Missions) were used to observe and/or discover