New Delhi: 30 years ago, the European Space Agency (ESA)’s Giotto flew by and studied Comet Halley and thus it became the first ever spacecraft to make close up observations of a comet.
On the night of 13-14 March 1986, the robotic spacecraft flew to within a mere 596 km of the Comet Halley revealing for the first time how a cometary nucleus looks up close.
Watch the video of the Giotto's historic flyby of the comet below:
Video credit: Our Universe Visualized/YouTube
It is said that images of the comet Halley's nucleus obtained by the Halley Multicolour Camera on board Giotto spacecraft were processed to produce the above video sequence depicting the close fly-by of the comet on March 14, 1986.
As scientists analysed the unique images and data from Giotto, they were also thinking ahead, laying the foundations of a future project that would evolve into Rosetta mission, wrote ESA in a blog post.
ESA's Rosetta reached Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, orbiting the comet and deploying the Philae lander.
In August 2015, Rosetta escorted the comet as they passed perihelion - the closest point to the Sun along their orbit, and will continue close-up studies until the end of September 2016, when it will be guided into a controlled impact on the surface.
This week, scientists are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Giotto’s close encounter with Comet Halley, as well as the continuing investigations by Rosetta, at the 50th ESLAB Symposium “From Giotto to Rosetta,” in Leiden, the Netherlands.