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Remembering the Sail Mission to Halley’s Comet

5 May 2017, 18:00 UTC
Remembering the Sail Mission to Halley’s Comet NASA/JPL
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Some years back I had the pleasure of asking Lou Friedman about the solar sail he, Bruce Murray and Carl Sagan championed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 1970s. NASA had hopes of reaching Halley’s Comet with a rendezvous mission in 1986. Halley’s closest approach that year would be 0.42 AU, but the comet was on the opposite side of the Sun from the Earth, making ground viewing less than impressive. Although the JPL mission did not fly, the Soviet Vega 1 and Vega 2 conducted flybys and the European Space Agency’s Giotto probe, as well as the Japanese Suisei and Sakigake, made up an investigative ‘armada.’

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