Sunday, August 12, 2018

This Week in Science History: Launch of the International Cometary Explorer

Article Written By: Teresa Marotta


On August 12, 1978, the International Cometary Explorer (ICE) was launched. The ICE was a part of the Internation Sun-Earth Explorer (ISEE) program which consisted of 3 satellites: ISEE-1 and ISEE-3 (the principal US contribution to the International Magnetospheric Study),  and ISEE-2 (built and managed by ESA). On October 22, 1977,  ISEE-1 and -2 were launched into almost coincident orbits. The orbital period was 57 hours. On August 12, 1978, ISEE-3 was launched and  inserted into a "halo" orbit between the Earth and Sun. Later, ISEE-3 was renamed the International Cometary Explorer (ICE) after the completion of its mission in 1982 when it was used to intercept the comet P/Giacobini-Zinner. On September 11, 1985, the spacecraft flew through the tail of the comet.

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