It has been a long-standing ambition of scientists to learn more about the universe and over the years, many projects have been launched to study celestial objects with great precision. The European Space Agency (ESA) is all set to add another major chapter to that quest as they approved a new mission called ‘Comet Observer’. According to ESA, it is said to launch by 2028 with a new telescope – Ariel – which will be used to study exoplanets. Although there is no specific target for this project, the telescope will be deployed to monitor the coming comets.
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“We are taking a significant risk. But it is a high reward,” ESA science director Günther Hasinger said in an official statement about the project that was first proposed back in 2019.
The ‘Comet Observer’ will also help ESA identify planets that may have an atmosphere that could support life. It will also help scientists to warn about any comet or asteroid-like objects that may be headed towards Earth. Earlier missions, such as ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft, have visited comets of shorter duration, but this will allow them to study them for longer periods.
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“The comet interceptor is going to give us the first real glimpse of a fundamental body,” Alan Fitzsimmons, a comet researcher at Queen’s University Belfast, told a report in the Natural Journal.
“We don’t know what it will look like. This will be a really new, never-seen-before science,” he said.
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