A Few Intreresting Comet Research Missions That Took Place before Rosetta
Although Rosetta mission is the most daring and most successful comet mission so far, there were several other missions like this in the past. There were many missions from the past that have helped us understand comets better. Comets are often viewed as time capsules of the Sun system. They contain icy particles from the time of their creation so it is no surprise that scientists are eager to check what they hide inside.
- The joint project of ESA and NASA agencies was originally launched as ISEE-3 or International Sun Earth Explorer 3, but after the successfully completed tasks it was renamed ICE. This mission was focused on studying the interactions between the atmosphere of a comet and solar winds. This is actually the first mission in which the space probe made contact with a comet. This contact was made with 21P/Giacobini-Zinner comet.
- The Halley’s army, a group of five space probes was one of the most famous comet missions in the world because it was focused on the popular Halley comet whose last passage was in 1986.
- The Soviet space program included two identical spaceships called vega 1 and Vega 2. They had a twofold mission to study the atmosphere and surface of Venus and to join the previously mentioned Halley’s Army. After the release of their research modules on Venus, with the help of the planet’s gravity they have managed to continue with their journey towards Halley’s Comet. While they were researching the dust and gases around the comet’s core the aircrafts took about 1500 pictures
- The first mission whose main task was to collect and bring samples of dust from the tail of a comet back to Earth was conducted in 2006. This is the year when NASA sent a space probe called Stardust to meet the comet called 81P/Wild which was passing by the 5535 Anne Frank asteroid. The mission was a complete success and the probe returned to our planet with a huge number of samples. Later, in 2011, the same probe Stardust was sent on another comet – 9P/Tempel, which was visited by another probe in 2005 – the Deep Impact.