Feb 22, 2019 | Updated: 08:52 AM EST

NASA Uses ESA's LISA Pathfinder Spacecraft To Find Traces Of Dust ‘Crumbs’ Left By Comets & Asteroids

Apr 19, 2017 07:30 PM EDT


NASA was reported to aim in finding dust crumbs of asteroids and comets in space. NASA announced to use a technique to do so with the aid of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) LISA Pathfinder spacecraft.

According to Phys, the European Space Agency’s LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) Pathfinder funded as well by NASA had successfully built a build an observatory for detecting ripples in space-time called a gravitational wave. But this time NASA hopes to map out dust of comets and asteroids with its help.

NASA’s move to find “crumbs” left by comets and asteroid was then mentioned to use LISA Pathfinder probe’s micro newton thrusters to respond from any impact. After bursting its thrusters, LISA counterattacks the impact and spins the spacecraft in order for researcher’s to study the impact and prevent the test masses to be damaged. Afterward, the impact could allow scientists to identify and linked the debris to known comets or asteroids.

"Every time microscopic dust strikes LISA Pathfinder, its thrusters null out the small amount of momentum transferred to the spacecraft," said Goddard co-investigator Diego Janches. "We can turn that around and use the thruster firings to learn more about the impacting particles. One team's noise becomes another team's data." LISA’s “distant location, sensitivity to low-mass particles, and ability to measure the size and direction of impacting particles” was mentioned to consider it as the perfect instrument to fulfill NASA and ESA’s mission.

With that said, Engadget noted that if ever NASA succeeds in finding dust particles left out by comets and asteroids in space through LISA Pathfinder, a whole inner dust map of the Solar System could be formed. The risks of future spacecraft harm and impact could then be predicted through the possibility of mapping the Solar System’s inner dust.

Nonetheless, NASA’s move to use ESA’s LISA Pathfinder is still in concept. The future aim is to create the method through a dedicated full gravitational wave observatory that's still in development and is currently being studied by NASA and ESA.

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