Unlike Japan, the Soviet Union, and the European Space Agency, the United States has no plans to send a spacecraft to observe or collect samples from Comet Halley as it whooshes past the earth in late 1985 and early 1986. However, U.S. astronomers are not only searching the skies in the hopes of catching the first glimmer of the famous comet but also are partaking in a coordinated international effort to collect and analyze data on the comet.
The International Halley Watch (IHW) will involve an international network of professional and amateur scientists. The organization invites all Comet Halley observers to add their data and photographs to the network's planned collection of observations made with instruments on the ground, in balloons, in earth orbit, and on aircraft. Data compiled by the IHW will form the Halley archive, the largest collection of information ever produced on a single comet, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The comet will be studied by using, among other techniques, wide-angle photography, high-resolution photographic and electronic imaging, spectroscopy and spectrophotometry, photometry and polarimetry, radio science experiments, infrared spectroscopy and radiometry, and astrometric observations.