NASA is readying a new kind of space device: a harpoon designed to rapidly fire against comets, easily taking chunks of its surface with surgical precision. It's now being tested by scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

This is the rationale: you can't land a spacecraft in a comet. It just travels and rotates too fast, plus the gravity is too low. Instead, NASA is thinking to send a ship armed with a space harpoon capable of firing at 100 feet per second. The harpoon will impact the surface of the comet, grabbing chunks of matter that could be analyzed back on Earth.

Sounds pretty awesome to me. I hope they call their next comet hunter Ahab. Or Starbuck. [NASA]