Comets are the only observable reservoir of the pristine remnants of the Solar System, enclosing fundamental imprints of the formation and evolution of the protoplanetary disk. In order to better understand their nature, many space missions have targeted comets over the past decades, including the NASA/Stardust probe and the most recent ESA mission, Rosetta. They all visited short period comets, with well-defined orbits that makes planning ahead of time but whose surfaces are strongly altered by evolution processes (cometary activity, space weathering). Visiting a relatively more pristine object motivated the recently selected the multi-spacecraft ESA mission Comet Interceptor (CI) comprising a primary platform and two small probes that will flyby at three different closest approach distances of the targeted comet. In fact, CI target will be a dynamically new comet from the Oort cloud approaching the Sun for the first time or possibly an interstellar object, to be discovered even after the spacecraft launch (~2029). After launch, CI will be delivered to the Sun-Earth Lagrange Point L2, where it will reside until directed to the target. Such a challenging mission will be feasible thanks to the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) that will be carried out by the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, in Chile. LSST is expected to identify thousands of new comets and several interstellar objects per year. In this talk, we will summarize the most relevant discoveries from space mission to Comets characterized by a remarkable Italian contribution: NASA/Stardust, ESA/Rosetta and ESA/Comet Interceptor, together with the ongoing work to prepare for its target identification within the LSST framework.
L'evento si svolge in Aula B - Via della Vasca Navale 84
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