The Solar Orbiter probe will fly through the tail of the ATLAS comet. This is stated in the message of the European Space Agency (ESA).
The comet, also known as C/2019 Y4, was discovered by astronomers from the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) in December 2019. At that time, it was a dull object, but after only a month its brightness grew by about 4 thousand times.
The increase in brightness occurred much faster than scientists thought. In this regard, the researchers suggested that C / 2019 Y4 will be the brightest comet in the last 20 years. It was planned that the celestial body could be seen from the Earth with the help of simple telescopes in May.
However, in early April, the comet began to fall apart into several parts. Astronomers already recorded the decay using the SLT (Super-Light Telescope) and LOT (Lulin One-meter Telescope) telescopes, but the resulting images were fuzzy.
The Solar Orbiter probe, designed to monitor the solar activity and polar regions of the star, will fly through the outer layers of the ATLAS tail on the night of May 31 to June 1
During the passage, scientists will try to catch the changes in the properties of the interplanetary medium that occur due to emissions from the surface of the comet. In addition, the researchers plan to measure the properties of dust.