Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA's Stardust And Deep Impact Will Observe More Comets And Extrasolar Planets

Date:
July 10, 2007
Source:
NASA
Summary:
Two NASA spacecraft now have new assignments after successfully completing their missions. The duo will make new observations of comets and characterize extrasolar planets. Stardust and Deep Impact will use their flight-proven hardware to perform new, previously unplanned, investigations.

An artist's concept of a "Hot Jupiter" extrasolar planet.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Two NASA spacecraft now have new assignments after successfully completing their missions. The duo will make new observations of comets and characterize extrasolar planets. Stardust and Deep Impact will use their flight-proven hardware to perform new, previously unplanned, investigations.

"These mission extensions are as exciting as it gets. They will allow us to revisit a comet for the first time, add another to the list of comets explored and make a search for small planets around stars with known large planets. And by using existing spacecraft in flight, we can accomplish all of this for only about 15 percent of the cost of starting a new mission from scratch," said Alan Stern, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Headquarters, Washington. "These new mission assignments for veteran spacecraft represent not only creative thinking and planning, but are also a prime example of getting more from the budget we have."

The EPOXI mission melds two compelling science investigations -- the Deep Impact Extended Investigation (DIXI) and the Extrasolar Planet Observation and Characterization (EPOCh). Both investigations will be performed using the Deep Impact spacecraft, which finished its prime mission in 2005.

DIXI will involve a flyby of comet Boethin, which has never been explored. Boethin is a small, short period comet, or one that returns frequently to the inner solar system, from beyond Jupiter's orbit. This investigation will allow the recovery of some of the science lost with the 2002 failure of the COmet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR) mission that was designed to make comparative studies of multiple comets. DIXI will be targeted to fly by comet Boethin December 5, 2008.

The EPOCh investigation also will use the Deep Impact spacecraft to observe several nearby bright stars, watching as the giant planets already known to be orbiting the stars pass in front of and then behind them. The collected data will be used to characterize the giant planets and to determine whether they possess rings, moons, or Earth-sized planetary companions. EPOCh's sensitivity will exceed both current ground and space-based observatory capabilities. EPOCh also will measure the mid-infrared spectrum of the Earth, providing comparative data for future efforts to study the atmospheres of extrasolar planets. This search for extrasolar planets will be made this year, en route to comet Boethin.

Michael A'Hearn of the University of Maryland, College Park, is EPOXI's principal investigator and the leader of the DIXI science team. L. Drake Deming of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md., is EPOXI's deputy principal investigator and leads the EPOCh investigation.

John Mather, Chief Scientist for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said, "EPOXI is a wonderful opportunity to add to our growing body of knowledge of exoplanets. Watching planets go behind or in front of their parent stars can tell us about their atmospheric chemistry."

The other newly selected Discovery mission of opportunity is called New Exploration of Tempel 1 (NExT). The mission will reuse NASA's Stardust spacecraft to revisit comet Tempel 1. This investigation will provide the first look at the changes to a comet nucleus produced after its close approach to the sun. It will mark the first time a comet has ever been revisited. NExT also will extend the mapping of Tempel 1, making it the most mapped comet nucleus to date. This mapping will help address the major questions of comet nucleus "geology" raised by images of areas where it appears material might have flowed like a liquid or powder. The images were returned by Deep Impact from its encounter with the comet on July 4, 2005. NExt is scheduled to fly by Tempel 1 on Feb. 14, 2011.

Joseph Veverka of Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, is NExT's principal investigator.

Stardust launched in Feb. 7, 1999. It traveled over 2 billion miles to fly within 150 miles of the comet Wild 2 in January 2004 to bring back samples that may provide new insights into the composition of comets and how they vary from one another. The container with the comet samples returned to Earth in January 2006 while the rest of the spacecraft remained in space.

Created in 1992, NASA's Discovery Program sponsors frequent, cost-capped solar system exploration missions with highly focused scientific goals. In 2006, NASA received approximately two dozen proposals in response to an Announcement of Opportunity for Discovery missions and Missions of Opportunity.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA. "NASA's Stardust And Deep Impact Will Observe More Comets And Extrasolar Planets." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070706131032.htm>.
NASA. (2007, July 10). NASA's Stardust And Deep Impact Will Observe More Comets And Extrasolar Planets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070706131032.htm
NASA. "NASA's Stardust And Deep Impact Will Observe More Comets And Extrasolar Planets." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070706131032.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

AP (July 23, 2014) The Progress 56 cargo ship launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday. NASA says it will deliver cargo and crew supplies to the International Space Station. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

AP (July 22, 2014) A Russian Soyuz cargo-carrying spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station on Monday. The craft is due to undergo about ten days of engineering tests before it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

AP (July 21, 2014) NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins