Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is  a virtual target for Comet Interceptor!

Comet Interceptor is scheduled to be launched in 2029, and the flyby of the yet unknown target comet will happen in the 2030s after some waiting period in the Sun-Earth Lagrange point L2. However, we are constantly looking for targets among the comets approaching the sun, to see if they could be reached by Comet Interceptor if it were in space now. We call those comets virtual targets. And it turns out that current bright comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is such a virtual target!

If Comet Interceptor had been in its parking position in the Lagrange point L2 in August 2022, it could flyby the comet on 12 February this year, one month after the comet's perihelion passage and about 10 days after its closest approach to earth. The flyby would be at a whooping velocity of 52 km/s. At that velocity it would take about 2 hours to get from the earth to the moon! 

More information about Comet ZTF can be found here


Image of Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) showing its green colour and its tail.              ©Oscar Martín (