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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jul 15, 2005 16:56:51 GMT -6
Deep Impact Flyby Spacecraft Ready For New Mission
Following its smashing success earlier this month with comet Tempel 1, the Deep Impact Flyby spacecraft is being readied for potential retargeting to yet another scientific destination.
The two-part Deep Impact craft consisted of the destroyed-on-purpose, battery-powered Impactor probe that was literally run over by Tempel 1, and a still-healthy Flyby spacecraft that monitored the event from a safe distance.
"NASA has given us a tiny amount of funding to make a maneuver next week that will set up the right trajectory and then enough money to keep the spacecraft alive in safe mode," said Michael A’Hearn, an astronomer at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. He is the Deep Impact mission’s principal investigator.
"They have not approved the extended mission yet because they haven’t found the money," A’Hearn told SPACE.com, noting that comet 85P/Boethin is the target for a hoped for new science objective.
This new object of desire, comet 85P/Boethin, was spotted in 1975 during a comet-sweeping session carried out by the now deceased Reverend Leo Boethin of the Philippines.
But there is one minor concern about Boethin, Yeoman explained. It has only been seen in 1975 and 1986. It was missed at its 1997 return to the Sun, he said, because it was on the other side of the Sun from Earth at the time.