Comet nucleus sample return: Plans and capabilities
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ROSETTA — the Comet Nucleus Sample Return mission — is one of the four Cornerstone missions to which ESA has committed itself in its approved Long-Term Programme Horizon 2000. The mission is currently being studied in collaboration with NASA. The comet-nucleus samples that ROSETTA is to provide will allow us to study some of the most primitive material in the solar system and the physical and chemical processes that marked the beginning of the system 4.6 billion years ago. For ESA, ROSETTA is a new type of mission: one which will return a sample at cryogenic temperature, and where as much effort has to be spent on preparing the laboratory analysis on-ground as has to be invested in preparing the space segment with the sample acquisition and in situ documentation. As part of the preparation for this mission, ESA is now starting to consider Planetary Protection issues.
KeywordsChemical Process Solar System Laboratory Analysis Cryogenic Temperature Sample Return
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