Space mission to Halley's comet?


  • Anonymous


If we filter through the mystique and folklore, the threats of destruction and distress, and, nowadays, the almost trivial description of a ‘dirty snowball’ traveling through space, what remains of the scientific interest in comets, such as the one Halley described, the one that is due to be visible from earth in 1986? A number of astronomers and space scientists, particularly those of perimental landing on the surface of Tempel 2. Original plans had called for a rendezvous with Halley's comet in 1986, but the political climate during the mid-1970's was not favorable for obtaining the 10-year advance support needed for this mission, in addition to other space missions, and now plans are going forward for the alternative flyby mission. What was lost, apart from the combined support of public viewing and interest during the mission, was only the opportunity to select a time when Halley's comet is in close range, and perhaps a time when it exhibits a variety of phenomena as it interacts with the solar wind plasma. Meanwhile, there will be a number of experiments conducted to obtain data on Halley's comet as it passes within view in 1986, data which will not be wasted in support of the flyby mission, when (and if) it occurs. The decade of the ′80's will begin with increasing activity of observation and measurement of the comet as it approaches.