Halley comet and the Giotto spacecraft

In march 1986, the Giotto probe flew within 600 km of the nucleus of Halley's comet. As well as sending images of the heart of the comet (see left), Giotto sampled the gases given off (mainly water vapour) and analysed the dust particles. There are now plans to build a craft to rendezvous with a comet and take samples from the nucleus. This will shed light on the origins of our planets: Astronomers believe comets are cosmic debris unchanged since the birth of the Solar System.

The Halley comet images from the Giotto spacecraft.

The Giotto