A space agency is launching its next generation search engine for NASA’s next-gen comet search efforts, a $5m funding boost for a program that aims to use artificial intelligence to discover the origins of comets.
The Asteroid Hunter (AHL) mission is the result of a three-year, $25m joint effort between NASA, the European Space Agency and the European Defence Agency (EDA).
The aim of the effort is to create a “next generation search system” that will provide the next generation of robotic missions for deep space exploration, said Michael Werner, deputy administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
The space agency hopes to start flying the next-Generation Comet Explorer mission in 2020.
It will be a mission that can search for comets with its own ground-based instrument, called the Asteroid Detector (ADS), a spacecraft that can detect asteroids and other objects that could be hazardous to humans and spacecraft.
“Comets are the only place we know that we can look for signs of life, which is why they are so important to our science,” Werner said.
“They’re the only objects we know we can see in the Solar System that are capable of making contact with Earth, which gives us a window on the origin of life.”NASA and the ESA are working together to build the first prototype of the ADS, which can measure distances to asteroids, using a radio telescope in Italy.
The first ADS-2 satellite will be launched in 2021 and be the first to carry the search engine and its data to Earth.
The ADS-1 and ADS-3 satellites are currently scheduled to launch in 2023 and 2026.
Both will use the same navigation system, which will be able to pinpoint an asteroid in about six hours, and will carry cameras that will detect objects in their asteroid belt, Werner said, adding that these satellites would also fly in tandem.
The new mission will also look at the comet that may have touched down on Earth during its formation.
“That will be an interesting place to look, because the comets have such a large impact crater,” Werner told reporters at the launch event in Virginia.
“We’ll also be looking at a few of the comet’s closest orbits, because those are very, very close.”
In 2020, NASA is hoping to send its first “comet hunter” to a comet named Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
The spacecraft will be flown by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the mission, and the UK-based UK Aerospace Research Laboratory.
The mission will involve sending a spacecraft to the comet.
It is also intended to test the search capabilities of a robotic mission called the DSCOVR satellite.
This year, NASA launched its first mission to the asteroid Bennu in the early days of the 2020s, with an initial probe to study its composition.
It is hoped that by 2020, the search will be “in a better position to be able go to that next stage of the search and to try and identify the comet as a possible source of life,” Werner added.
The next generation mission is intended to take more of a “robust search” approach, which means that the system will continue to look for cometary debris and could even search for life on the surface of the asteroid.
The team will also build and test new technology for detecting comets, such as cameras and spectrometers, and sending them into orbit.
The technology could provide a better way to search for asteroids in deep space, which could be very challenging to do at a distance.