NASA's EPOXI mission sets up for comet flyby

Sep 30, 2010 By DC Agle
NASA's Deep Impact/EPOXI spacecraft flew past Earth on June 27, 2010, to get a boost from Earth’s gravity. It is now on its way to comet Hartley 2, depicted in this artist’s concept, with a planned flyby this fall. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Earlier yesterday, navigators and mission controllers for NASA's EPOXI mission watched their computer screens as 23.6 million kilometers (14.7 million miles) away, their spacecraft successfully performed its 20th trajectory correction maneuver. The maneuver refined the spacecraft's orbit, setting the stage for its flyby of comet Hartley 2 on Nov. 4. Time of closest approach to the comet was expected to be about 10: 02 a.m. EDT (7:02 a.m. PDT).

Yesterday trajectory correction maneuver began at 2 p.m. EDT (11 a.m. PDT), when the spacecraft fired its engines for 60 seconds, changing the spacecraft's velocity by 1.53 meters per second (3.4 mph).

"We are about 23 million miles and 36 days away from our ," said EPOXI project manager Tim Larson of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "I can't wait to see what Hartley 2 looks like."

On Nov. 4, the spacecraft will fly past the comet at a distance of about 700 kilometers (435 miles). It will be only the fifth time in history that a spacecraft has been close enough to image a comet's nucleus, and the first time in history that two comets have been imaged with the same instruments and same spatial resolution.

"We are imaging the comet every day, and Hartley 2 is proving to be a worthy target for exploration," said Mike A'Hearn, EPOXI principal investigator from the University of Maryland, College Park.

EPOXI is an extended mission that utilizes the already "in flight" Deep Impact spacecraft to explore distinct celestial targets of opportunity. The name EPOXI itself is a combination of the names for the two extended mission components: the extrasolar planet observations, called Extrasolar Planet Observations and Characterization (EPOCh), and the of comet Hartley 2, called the Deep Impact Extended Investigation (DIXI). The will continue to be referred to as "."

Explore further: Innovative use of pressurant extends MESSENGER's mission, enables collection of new data

More information: For more information about EPOXI visit epoxi.umd.edu/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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

The top 101 astronomical events to watch for in 2015

Dec 24, 2014

Now in its seventh year of compilation and the second year running on Universe Today, we're proud to feature our list of astronomical happenings for the coming year. Print it, bookmark it, hang it on your ...

NASA image: Frosty slopes on Mars

Dec 24, 2014

This image of an area on the surface of Mars, approximately 1.5 by 3 kilometers in size, shows frosted gullies on a south-facing slope within a crater.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.