Designed by the European Space Agency ( ESA ), the 960 kg spacecraft will come close to imposing core (15 x 7.2 km) of the mythical comet observed for thousands of years within 600 km (12,000 impacts were then recorded) . A few years later, in 1992, scientists handed it by leading the ship to within 200 km of the surface of 26P / Grigg-Skjellerup. Astronomers were surprised to find in both cases much darker nuclei as they had expected.
In 1986, the Giotto space probe photographed the legendary Comet Halley about 2,000 km from its core of 15 km in length. © Esa, MMS
After this intense episode, engineers and scientists want to go further and deeper in now exploring the innards of these celestial bodies, touching and "tasting" their surfaces ... Launched in 1998, Deep Space 1 - responsibilities include testing the propulsion ion - reached the comet 19P / Borelly (8 x 4 km) in 2001 and transmit images of a then unprecedented resolution.
The beginning of the XXI th century will then fly the mission Stardust . This time he comes to collect, in the wake of the / comet 81P Wild (Wild or 2), some grains swarming and send them back to Earth intact. http://enjoycoloring.com/ Arrived in 2006, the samples collected were very difficult to analyze (7 skidded particles in the airgel) and have not yet revealed all their secrets. In 2005, the aptly named Deep Impact ("Deep Impact") launched an impactor into the ground 9P / Tempel - also known Tempel 1 - to study the dust that is generated. Meanwhile renamed Epoxi spacecraft, which went in 2010 to 103P / Hartley or Hartley 2 Note that Stardust also enjoyed a mission extension, becoming, in 2011, Stardust-Next. The chosen target: Comet 9P / Tempel visited a few years earlier by his counterpart. The transmitted images showed the transformation of core and details of the crater appeared six years before.