Artist’s impression of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe
Parker Space Probe/NASA
A spacecraft on a mission to the sun had a surprise encounter with a comet last year – and discovered evidence that it may not be a comet after all.
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe (PSP) was launched in 2018 to study the sun and is currently still in a close orbit, travelling in a region of the solar system often visited by comets.
Jiansen He at Peking University in Beijing, China, and his colleagues checked the orbital trajectory of the spacecraft against a database of comets, looking for potential encounters. …