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Cometary Science: The Present and Future Michael F. A'Hearn

Summary: p. 1 of 11
Cometary Science: The Present and Future
Michael F. A'Hearn
The preceding chapters in this book have provided a comprehensive study of our
present knowledge of comets, from the interstellar medium, through formation of the
solar system and the present day, to the death of comets. This chapter will make no
attempt to summarize the previous chapters. Rather, based on the material in the
previous chapters, this chapter will ask about the high-level state of our knowledge in
major areas. Is our knowledge mostly speculation based on fragmentary data? Is our
knowledge mature in terms of data but immature in interpretation? Is the entire area
mature with a full understanding of the implications for the larger fields of science? A
natural outgrowth of this approach is to ask where we might be a decade into the future.
What would we like to know? What are we likely to know? Where might the big
surprises lie?
No references (except one non-cometary reference) are given in this chapter
because the topics are all covered in more detail elsewhere in this book and those
chapters contain a far more appropriate set of primary references than could be provided
here. Some of the areas, notably dynamics, have also been surveyed at a higher level
earlier in this book. Other scientists will likely disagree with some of the conclusions and
speculations presented here, but the main purpose of the chapter is not to be definitive but


Source: A'Hearn, Michael F. - Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland at College Park


Collections: Physics