Comet Interceptor has been selected as ESA’s new fast-class mission. It will be the first spacecraft to visit a truly pristine comet or other interstellar object that is only just starting its journey into the inner Solar System.
The spacecraft will wait at the Sun-Earth Lagrange point L2, which is 1.5 million kilometres ‘behind’ Earth as viewed from the Sun. It will travel to an as-yet undiscovered comet, making a flyby of the chosen target when it is on the approach to Earth’s orbit.
The mission comprises three spacecraft that will perform simultaneous observations from multiple points around the comet, creating a 3D profile of a ‘dynamically new’ object that contains unprocessed material surviving from the dawn of the Solar System.
This graphic is not to scale.