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By Ben Zion Sandler

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The descending node would involve a lesser escape speed but would result in a higher relative speed at encounter. This was the case because the spacecraft needed only to be injected into an orbit similar to that of Earth, with a period of 10 rather than 12 months. 49,50 Of course, higher energy ballistic flights existed. 51 NASA was not alone in studying Halley missions. 52 Unfortunately, despite the importance of cometary studies to Soviet astronomers, as evidenced by the number of comets that bear Russian and Ukrainian names, it is not known which (if any) plans were under discussion in the USSR at that time.

An X-ray fluorescence analyzer and an improved Sigma-3 gas chromatograph would also analyze the composition of the aerosols. Because of its growth in volume and capabilities, the gas chromatograph could not be fitted inside the lander's body, so it was mounted in a thermally controlled pod on the landing ring. A `double-bell' shaped humidity sensor was also mounted on the landing ring. This completed the atmospheric suite. 129,130,131 Even although the landing would be in darkness, there was a solar panel to measure the illumination at the surface ± probably carried simply because it formed part of the standardized payload of the previous landers.

This would be simpler to deploy, since the strips could be unreeled from storage drums; a task which would be assisted by the centrifugal force of the spacecraft's spin. 61,62,63 Competing against the solar sail probe was a more conservative concept using a solar-electric propulsion module. This technology had been under study by NASA and US industry for almost 15 years and so, even though still experimental, it was deemed to be more mature than a solar sail. As a result, in September 1977 NASA announced that it had chosen electric propulsion for future interplanetary missions, including the Halley rendezvous.

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