SETI bioastro: Fw: NASA Bids Farewell to the Successful Deep Space 1 Mission

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Date: Mon Dec 17 2001 - 16:11:41 PST

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Sent: Monday, December 17, 2001 6:16 PM
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Subject: NASA Bids Farewell to the Successful Deep Space 1 Mission

PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011

Contact: Martha J. Heil 818-354-0850



     NASA's adventurous Deep Space 1 mission, which
successfully tested 12 high-risk, advanced space technologies
and captured the best images ever taken of a comet, will come
to an end Dec. 18, 2001.

     "American taxpayers can truly be proud of Deep Space 1,"
said Dr. Colleen Hartman, Director of NASA's Solar System
Exploration Division, Washington, D.C. "It was originally
designed to be an 11-month mission, but things were going so
well that we kept it going for a few more years to continue
testing its remarkable ion engine and, as a bonus, to get
close-up images of a comet. By the time we turn its engines
off tomorrow, Deep Space 1 will have earned an honored place
in space exploration history."

     Shortly after 12 noon PST Tuesday, engineers will send a
final command turning off the ion engine, which has used up 90
percent of its xenon fuel. After Earth's final goodbye, the
spacecraft will remain in orbit around the Sun, operating on
its own. Its radio receiver will be left turned on, in case
future generations want to contact the spacecraft.

     "Deep Space 1 is a true success story," said Dr. Charles
Elachi, director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif. "We are proud that future generations of
spacecraft will benefit from its accomplishments."

     Deep Space 1 leaves the technologies it flight-tested as
legacies for future missions, which would have been impossible
without its trailblazing technology tests. Enabling spacecraft
to travel faster and farther than ever before, Deep Space 1's
ion engine was once a science fiction dream. Now this ion
engine has accumulated over 670 days of operating time.
Future Mars missions may use this technology to return samples
from the Red Planet.

     Deep Space 1's successful test of autonomous navigation
software was a major step in the path of artificial
intelligence for spacecraft. Using images of asteroids and
stars collected by the onboard camera, the spacecraft was able
to compute and correct its course without relying on human
controllers on Earth. NASA's Deep Impact mission will use a
system based on autonomous navigation to reach the nucleus of
comet Tempel 1.

     Within nine months after launch, Deep Space 1 had successfully
tested all 12 new technologies. As a bonus, near the end of the
primary mission, Deep Space 1 flew by asteroid Braille. In late
1999, its primary mission complete, Deep Space 1's star tracker
failed to operate. So in early 2000, engineers successfully
reconfigured the spacecraft from 300 million kilometers (185
million miles) away to rescue it for a daring extended mission to
encounter comet Borrelly.

     In September 2001, Deep Space 1 passed just 2,171 kilometers
(1,349 miles) from the inner icy nucleus of comet Borrelly,
snapping the highest-resolution pictures ever of a comet. The
daring flyby yielded new data and movies of the comet's nucleus
that will revolutionize the study of comets.

     Launched on October 24, 1998, Deep Space 1 was designed
and built in just three years, the shortest development time
for any interplanetary spacecraft NASA has flown in the modern
age. It was the first mission in NASA's New Millennium
program. In addition to its technical achievements, Deep Space
1 is an ambassador of Earthlings' goodwill, carrying with it a
compact disc of children's drawings and engineers' thoughts.

     "I'm not sad it's ending, I'm happy it accomplished so
much," said Dr. Marc Rayman, Deep Space 1 project manager at
JPL. "I think it inspired many people who saw the mission as
NASA and JPL at our best -- bold, exciting, resourceful and

     JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology
in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Office of Space
Science, Washington, D.C. Spectrum Astro Inc., Gilbert, Ariz.,
was JPL's primary industrial partner in spacecraft

     Additional information on Deep Space 1 is available at .

Note to broadcasters: NASA TV will broadcast a video
file of the Deep Space 1 mission highlights at 12, 3, 6 and 9
p.m.EST Monday, Dec. 17 and Tuesday, Dec. 18. NASA TV is
located on satellite GE2, Transponder 9C, audio 3880 MHz;
orbital position 85 degrees west longitude, with audio at 6.8
MHz. Programming may be preempted by other events such as
breaking news or live events during
Space Shuttle missions.

               # # # # #

12/17/01 MJH

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