The Comet Interceptor Mission

Geraint H. Jones*, Colin Snodgrass, Cecilia Tubiana, Michael Küppers, Hideyo Kawakita, Luisa M. Lara, Jessica Agarwal, Nicolas Andre, Nicholas Attree, Uli Auster, Stefano Bagnulo, Michele Bannister, Arnaud Beth, Neil Bowles, Andrew Coates, Luigi Colangeli, Carlos Corral van Damme, Vania Da Deppo, Johan De Keyser, Vincenzo Della CorteNiklas Edberg, Mohamed Ramy El-Maarry, Sara Faggi, Marco Fulle, Ryu Funase, Marina Galand, Charlotte Goetz, Olivier Groussin, Aurélie Guilbert-Lepoutre, Pierre Henri, Satoshi Kasahara, Akos Kereszturi, Mark Kidger, Matthew Knight, Rosita Kokotanekova, Ivana Kolmasova, Konrad Kossacki, Ekkehard Kührt, Yuna Kwon, Fiorangela La Forgia, Anny Chantal Levasseur-Regourd, Manuela Lippi, Andrea Longobardo, Raphael Marschall, Marek Morawski, Olga Muñoz, Antti Näsilä, Hans Nilsson, Cyrielle Opitom, Mihkel Pajusalu, Antoine Pommerol, Lubomir Prech, Nicola Rando, Francesco Ratti, Hanna Rothkaehl , Alessandra Rotundi, Martin Rubin, Naoya Sakatani, Joan Pau Sanchez, Cyril Simon Wedlund, Anamarija Stankov, Nicolas Thomas, Imre Toth, Geronimo Villanueva, Jean-Baptiste Vincent, Martin Volwerk, Peter Wurz, Arno Wielders, Kazuo Yoshioka, Konrad Aleksiejuk, Fernando Alvarez, Carine Amoros, Shahid Aslam, Barbara Atamaniuk, Jędrzej Baran, Tomasz Barcinski, Thomas Beck, Thomas Behnke, Martin Berglund, Ivano Bertini, Marcin Bieda, Piotr Binczyk, Martin-Diego Busch, Andrei Cacovean, Maria Teresa Capria, Chris Carr, Jose Maria Castro Marin, Matteo Ceriotti, Paolo Chioetta, Agata Chuchra-Konrad, Lorenzo Cocola, Fabrice Colin, Chiaki Crews, Victoria Cripps, Emanuele Cupido, Alberto Dassatti, Bjorn J.R. Davidsson, Thierry De Roche, Jan Deca, Simone Del Togno, Frederik Dhooghe, Kerri Donaldson Hanna, Anders Eriksson, Andrey Federov, Estela Fernandez-Valenzuela, Stefano Ferretti, Johan Floriot, Fabio Frassetto, Jesper Fredriksson, Philippe Garnier, Dorota Gawel, Vincent Genot, Thomas Gerber, Karl-Heinz Glassmeier, Mikael Granvik, Benjamin Grison, Herbert Gunell, Tedjani Hachemi, Christian Hagen, Rajkumar Hajra, Yuki Harada, Johann Hasiba, Nico Haslebacher, Miguel Luis Herranz De La Revilla, Daniel Hestroffer, Tilak Hewagama, Carrie Holt, Stubbe Hviid, Iaroslav Iakubivskyi, Laura Inno, Patrick Irwin, Stavro Ivanovski, Jiri Jansky, Irmgard Jernej, Harald Jeszenszky, Jaime Jimenez, Laurent Jorda, Mihkel Kama, Shingo Kameda, Michael S. P. Kelley, Kamil Klepacki, Tomas Kohout, Hirotsugu Kojima, Tomasz Kowalski, Masaki Kuwabara, Michal Ladno, Gunter Laky, Helmut Lammer, Radek Lan, Benoit Lavraud, Monica Lazzarin, Olivier Le Duff, Qiu-Mee Lee, Cezary Lesniak, Zoe Lewis, Zhong-Yi Lin, Tim Lister, Stephen Lowry, Werner Magnes, Johannes Markkanen, Ignacio Martinez Navajas, Zita Martins, Ayako Matsuoka, Barbara Matyjasiak, Christian Mazelle, Elena Mazzotta Epifani, Mirko Meier, Harald Michaelis, Marco Micheli, Alessandra Migliorini, Aude-Lyse Millet, Fernando Moreno, Stefano Mottola, Bruno Moutounaick, Karri Muinonen, Daniel R. Muller, Go Murakami, Naofumi Murata, Kamil Myszka, Shintaro Nakajima, Zoltan Nemeth, Artiom Nikolajev, Simone Nordera, Dan Ohlsson, Aire Olesk, Harald Ottacher, Naoya Ozaki, Christophe Oziol, Manisha Patel, Aditya Savio paul, Antti Penttila, Claudio Pernechele, Joakim Peterson, Enrico Petraglio, Alice Maria Piccirillo, Ferdinand Plaschke, Szymon Polak, Frank Postberg, Herman Proosa, Silvia Protopapa, Walter Puccio, Sylvain Ranvier, Sean Raymond, Ingo Richter, Martin Rieder, Roberto Rigamonti, Irene Ruiz Rodriguez, Ondrej Santolik, Takahiro Sasaki, Rolf Schrodter, Katherine Shirley, Andris Slavinskis, Balint Sodor, Jan Soucek, Peter Stephenson, Linus Stockli, Pawel Szewczyk, Gabor Troznai, Ludek Uhlir, Naoto Usami, Aris Valavanoglou, Jakub Vaverka, Wei Wang, Xiao-Dong Wang, Gaetan Wattieaux, Martin Wieser, Sebastian Wolf, Hajime Yano, Ichiro Yoshikawa, Vladimir Zakharov, Tomasz Zawistowski, Paola Zuppella, Giovanna Rinaldi, Hantao Ji

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Here we describe the novel, multi-point Comet Interceptor mission. It is dedicated to the exploration of a little-processed long-period comet, possibly entering the inner Solar System for the first time, or to encounter an interstellar object originating at another star. The objectives of the mission are to address the following questions: What are the surface composition, shape, morphology, and structure of the target object? What is the composition of the gas and dust in the coma, its connection to the nucleus, and the nature of its interaction
with the solar wind? The mission was proposed to the European Space Agency in 2018, and formally adopted by the agency in June 2022, for launch in 2029 together with the Ariel mission. Comet Interceptor will take advantage of the opportunity presented by ESA’s F-Class call for fast, flexible, low-cost missions to which it was proposed. The call required a launch to a halo orbit around the Sun-Earth L2 point. The mission can take advantage of this placement to wait for the discovery of a suitable comet reachable with its minimum ΔV
capability of 600 ms−1 . Comet Interceptor will be unique in encountering and studying, at a nominal closest approach distance of 1000 km, a comet that represents a near-pristine sample of material from the formation of the Solar System. It will also add a capability that no previous cometary mission has had, which is to deploy two sub-probes – B1, provided by the Japanese space agency, JAXA, and B2 – that will follow different trajectories through the coma. While the main probe passes at a nominal 1000 km distance, probes B1 and B2 will
follow different chords through the coma at distances of 850 km and 400 km, respectively. The result will be unique, simultaneous, spatially resolved information of the 3-dimensional properties of the target comet and its interaction with the space environment. We present the mission’s science background leading to these objectives, as well as an overview of the
scientific instruments, mission design, and schedule.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-83
Number of pages83
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Volume220
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Comets
  • Spacecraft
  • Instruments
  • spaceborne and space research

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