Science: Tailing a Comet

A rendezvous in space

When Halley's Comet last streaked across the skies in 1910, it was for many an unwelcome visitor. Fearful that the earth would be enveloped by deadly gases in its glowing tail, people bought comet pills to ward off its effects, and held end-of-the-world gatherings. In 1985, when the comet returns—as it does every three-quarters of a century —it should get a friendlier reception. In fact, NASA is planning a scientific welcoming party in space.

Last week the space agency announced the award of $1.15 million contracts to Boeing and Lockheed for...

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