Posted: June 20th, 2021
Asteroids vs. Comets Spacecrafts have retrieved extraordinarily valuable information that has furthered the human race’s knowledge of what exists in outer space. However, spacecrafts and shuttles are extremely expensive to build and launch into space so they should be well taken care of. Sending a spacecraft to an asteroid is far better and safer than sending a spacecraft to a comet for quite a few different reasons. First, an asteroid is made up of less materials than a comet. Next, comets produce two tails when approaching the Sun.
Lastly, an asteroid’s orbit is much more predictable than a comet’s orbit. With these characteristics, asteroids make a better object for spacecrafts to land on rather than comets. A typical asteroid is made up of rock, metal, and iron. The iron causes asteroids to be rock solid with some loose piles of rubble. Comets consist of many different materials such as ice and dust. With less exposed materials, sending a spacecraft to an asteroid instead of a comet reduces unexpected obstacles with the comet’s atmospheric conditions.
Having an atmosphere with high levels of water and dust can also make the spacecraft’s maneuvering difficult. An asteroid would be much more suitable for spacecraft maneuvering due to it’s rocky and dry shell. Comets produce two tails when they get closer to the Sun while asteroids produce no tails. These two tails consist of one white tail made of dust and another blue tail containing ionized gas. The Sun’s light creates radiation pressure and when mixed with solar wind, they push the dust and gas outward and away from the Sun thus creating the two tails.
Exposing a spacecraft to these conditions can be very detrimental to the exterior and technology of the spacecraft. Which would be very counterproductive and could potentially destroy any evidence recorded. Asteroids, however, are basically big piles of rubble with craters. Spacecrafts would have a much easier time landing on an asteroid as opposed to a comet. Asteroids come from the inner solar system and have a very predictable orbit. All asteroids orbit between Mars and Jupiter in the “asteroid belt” around the Sun.
Some comets may have a predictable orbit, however, there are many ways a comet may be knocked off course. Comets come from the outer solar system where other objects or even passing stars can cause the comet to have a different orbit. Having a more predictable orbit would make a spacecraft mission much easier to map and plan out. It costs around $300 million to send a spacecraft on a mission to space on an interplanetary mission. In this case, asteroids are much better for a spacecraft to take a mission to.
Asteroids are made up of less materials that contribute to a dangerous climate which is much more suitable for a spacecraft to maneuver around on. Second, comets produce two tails containing dust and ionized gas which would make it difficult to land a spacecraft on. Last, asteroids have a very predictable orbit while comets can be harder to track and plan a mission to. Asteroids clearly have better qualities for a spacecraft to be sent to.
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