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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1997 > Nov > Nov 20

NASA Craft To Study Asteroid, Mars

From: RSchatte@aol.com
Date: Wed, 19 Nov 1997 14:18:27 -0500 (EST)
Fwd Date: Thu, 20 Nov 1997 08:22:27 -0500
Subject: NASA Craft To Study Asteroid, Mars

Forwarded message:
Subj:    NASA Craft To Study Asteroid, Mars
Date:    97-11-19 10:07:39 EST
From:    AOL News

.c The Associated Press

      By JANE E. ALLEN

      PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - Slowly accelerating through space with a
solar-powered engine, NASA's $141 million Deep Space 1 spacecraft
will test a dozen new technologies for future missions.

      DS1, the first in NASA's New Millennium series, is set for
launch next July on a two-year mission. The 5-foot-high workhorse
will cruise past an asteroid, Mars and a comet, doing scientific
work with several compact, lightweight and highly efficient new

      Seven members of the science team held a briefing Tuesday to
discuss the spacecraft's advanced technologies, including a solar
electric propulsion system.

      In January 1999, the spacecraft will pass within 5 miles of an
asteroid named for Christa McAuliffe, the New Hampshire teacher
killed by the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. It will
snap pictures, analyze the asteroid's surface composition and
brightness, and monitor effects of the solar wind.

      In April 2000, DS1 will pass by Mars, conducting tests while it
uses the planet for a gravity assist maneuver to fling it on a path
toward the comet West-Kohoutek-Ikemura.

      Once it catches up with the comet, it will study its solid
nucleus and surrounding cloud of gas and dust.

      The mission also offers ``a long-overdue opportunity to
flight-test ion propulsion,'' said Joseph Wang, who runs the
propulsion group at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

      An array of 720 lenses will focus sunlight on solar panels to
produce electricity to power the ion propulsion engine. Inside the
engine, atoms of xenon gas are given positive charges, then exposed
to a negative electrical field that attracts and shoots them out
the back of the spacecraft. The result is a gradual buildup of
speed over many months.

      The propulsion method is 10 times more efficient than burning
fuel, ``but the thrust is extremely gentle,'' said Marc D. Rayman,
the project's chief mission engineer at JPL. He compared the
engine's thrust to the weight of a piece of paper in your hand.

      AP-NY-11-19-97 0940EST

Copyright 1997 The Associated Press.  The information
contained in the AP news report may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without
prior written authority of The Associated Press.

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