Earth to Lend Helping Hand to Comet Craft

Jun 25, 2010
NASA's Deep Impact/EPOXI spacecraft, illustrated in this artist's concept, will fly past Earth on June 27, 2010. The spacecraft has an appointment with comet Hartley 2 this fall. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Deep Impact/EPOXI spacecraft will fly past Earth this Sunday (June 27).

Mission navigators have tailored this trajectory so the spacecraft can "hitch a ride" on Earth's , which will help propel the mission toward its appointment with comet Hartley 2 this fall. At time of closest approach to Earth, the spacecraft will be about 30,400 kilometers (18,900 miles) above the South Atlantic.

"Earth is a great place to pick up orbital velocity," said Tim Larson, the EPOXI project manager from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "This will give our spacecraft a 1.5-kilometer-per-second [3,470 mph] boost, setting us up to get up close and personal with Hartley 2."

EPOXI is an extended mission of the Deep Impact spacecraft. Its name is derived from its two tasked science investigations -- the Extended Investigation (DIXI) and the Extrasolar Planet Observation and Characterization (EPOCh).

On Nov. 4, 2010, the mission will conduct an extended flyby of Hartley 2 using all three of the spacecraft's instruments (two telescopes with digital color cameras and an infrared spectrometer).

Explore further: NASA picks Boeing and SpaceX to ferry astronauts

More information: For information about EPOXI, visit www.nasa.gov/epoxi

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA Announces Deep Impact Future Mission Status

Jul 21, 2005

As NASA's Deep Impact flyby spacecraft prepares to execute its sixth trajectory correction maneuver, program managers at agency headquarters in Washington are investigating future options.

NASA Announces Another Comet Mission

Oct 31, 2006

NASA announced today that it has accepted the University of Maryland proposal to send the Deep Impact spacecraft on an extended mission to get a close-up look at Comet Boethin.

Deep Impact correction maneuver successful

May 16, 2005

Fifty-nine days before going head-to-head with comet Tempel 1, NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft successfully executed the second trajectory correction maneuver of the mission. The burn further refined the spacecraft's trajectory, or ...

NASA's Stardust Burns for Comet, Less Than a Year Away

Feb 18, 2010

Just three days shy of one year before its planned flyby of comet Tempel 1, NASA's Stardust spacecraft has successfully performed a maneuver to adjust the time of its encounter by eight hours and 20 minutes. ...

Recommended for you

Video: MAVEN set to slide into orbit around Mars

2 hours ago

A NASA mission to Mars led by the University of Colorado Boulder is set to slide into orbit around the red planet this week after a 10-month, 442-million mile chase through the inner solar system. 

Dawn operating normally after safe mode triggered

2 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The Dawn spacecraft has resumed normal ion thrusting after the thrusting unexpectedly stopped and the spacecraft entered safe mode on September 11. That anomaly occurred shortly before a planned ...

Repaired Opportunity rover readies for 'Marathon Valley'

2 hours ago

With a newly cleared memory, it's time for Opportunity to resume the next stage of its long, long Martian drive. The next major goal for the long-lived rover is to go to Marathon Valley, a spot that (in images ...

Image: Rainbow aurora captured from space station

5 hours ago

Auroras occur when particle radiation from the Sun hits Earth's upper atmosphere, making it glow in a greenish blue light. ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst has one of our planet's best views of this phenomenon, ...

Experts: Mystery fireball was Russian satellite

9 hours ago

People from New Mexico to Montana saw the bright object break apart as it moved slowly northward across the night sky. Witnesses described it as three "rocks" with glowing red and orange streaks.

User comments : 0