Comet Chaser Mission Moves From Blueprint to Reality

Artist’s impression of Comet Interceptor mission. (Credit: Geraint Jones, UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory)

MADRID, Spain (ESA PR) — A new European Space Agency science mission, proposed by the UK, to 3D-map a comet for the first time has reached a major milestone.

The Comet Interceptor mission was formally adopted by the European Space Agency (ESA) at a meeting in Madrid today (Wednesday, 8 June 2022), moving from the design phase to implementation, with the next step to select a contractor to build the spacecraft and a robotic probe.

Due for launch in 2029, it will see one main spacecraft and two robotic probes – the other built by the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) – travel to an as-yet unidentified comet and map it in three dimensions.

Caroline Harper, Head of Space Science at the UK Space Agency, said:

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Introducing ESA Vigil: Earth’s Devoted Solar Defender

The Vigil space weather monitoring mission. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — It’s the first mission of its kind, set to monitor our active and unpredictable Sun and help protect us from its violent outbursts – and it has a new name.

Once known as “Lagrange,” ESA’s upcoming space weather mission needed a new name that would reflect its vital role: helping to protect Earth’s infrastructure, satellites, inhabitants and space explorers from unpredictable but violent solar events like solar flares and ‘coronal mass ejections’.

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Rosalind Franklin Mars Rover Passes Latest Tests Ahead of September Launch

An artist’s impression of the ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover on the surface of Mars. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The UK-built ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover is set for launch in September after a series of successful tests, including driving off its landing platform.

The European Space Agency (ESA) rover starts the year with months of successful maintenance and functional tests behind it. All its instruments are go for flight, with some minor tuning left to complete this month.

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ESA’s Solar Orbiter to Pass through Tails of Comet ATLAS

Hubble Space Telescope observation of Comet ATLAS. [Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (UCLA), Q. Ye (University of Maryland)]

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s Solar Orbiter will cross through the tails of Comet ATLAS during the next few days. Although the recently launched spacecraft was not due to be taking science data at this time, mission experts have worked to ensure that the four most relevant instruments will be switched on during the unique encounter.

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UK to Play Major Role in Space Weather Mission Concept

Artist illustration of events on the sun changing the conditions in Near-Earth space. A new study finds daily U.S. economic cost from solar storm-induced electricity blackouts could be in the tens of billions of dollars. (Credit: NASA)

SWINDON, UK (UKSA PR) — Teams from across the UK will work on a concept for a future European mission to help reduce the global risk of damage caused by space weather.

Space weather occurs when the sun ejects material which can be highly charged, super heated and hazardous to manmade infrastructure and human life in space.

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