While NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is currently gathering information on asteroids that will likely inform new science fiction, the ESA’s craft Rosetta and its plucky lander Philae, which made headlines last year as the first craft to make a soft landing on a comet, are doing the same for comets. Comets, due to their origins at the fringes of the solar system and their widely eccentric orbits, function as sort of planetary fossils, holding information preserved from the formation of the solar system. That fact, and their frequent ghostly appearances in our skies throughout history, make them prime settings for science fiction.
The scene in Arthur C. Clarke’s 2061: Odyssey Three in which astronauts explore the surface of Halley’s comet has stayed with me for years after the rest of the details of that book have faded. What struck me most was the mystery the comet embodied: it was a visitor, traveling into the inner solar system from parts unknown and venturing out into the dark again. It’s no surprise then that an unnamed comet makes an appearance in First Fleet, bearing a cargo that will change the course of human history.
Check out Stephen's novel First Fleet here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014LZJS0C