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Comet Hopper

Comet Hopper (CHopper)
Operator Under evaluation by NASA
Major contractors UMD, Lockheed Martin, GSFC
Mission type Lander
Launch date 2016 (proposed)
Launch vehicle Atlas V
Mission duration 7.3 years
Current destination Comet Wirtanen
Orbital insertion date 2022 (proposed)
Power ASRG

Comet Hopper (CHopper) was a proposed lander to NASA's Discovery Program that, had it been selected, would have orbited and landed multiple times on Comet Wirtanen as it approaches the Sun. The proposed mission is led by Jessica Sunshine of the UMD, working with Lockheed Martin to build the spacecraft and the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center to manage the mission.[1]


The Comet Hopper mission was one of three Discovery Program finalists that received USD$3 million in May 2011 to develop a detailed concept study.[2] The other two missions were InSight and Titan Mare Explorer. After a review in August 2012, NASA selected the InSight mission.[3]

Scientific goals

The CHopper mission has three primary science goals over the 7.3 years of its nominal lifetime. At roughly 4.5 AU the spacecraft will rendezvous with Comet Wirtanen and begin to map the spatial heterogeneity of surface solids as well as gas and dust emissions from the coma - the nebulous envelope around the nucleus of a comet. The remote mapping will also allow for any nucleus structure, geologic processes, and coma mechanisms to be determined. After arriving at Comet Wirtanen, the spacecraft will approach and land, then subsequently hop to other locations on the comet. As the comet approaches the sun, the spacecraft will land and hop multiple times.[4] The final landing will occur at 1.5 AU. As the comet approaches the sun and becomes more active, the spacecraft will be able to record surface changes.[1]

Instrument suite

CHopper will carry five instruments:[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Planetary Science Division Update" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved May 23, 2011. 
  2. ^ "NASA picks project shortlist for next Discovery mission". TG Daily. 9 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-20.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  3. ^ NASA will send robot drill to Mars in 2016, Washington Post, By Brian Vastag, Monday, August 20
  4. ^ "Maryland scientists vie for NASA missions". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved June 2, 2011. 

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