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What's Next for Deep Impact?


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Deep Impact interfaced with Comet.
The first moments after Deep Impact's probe "interfaced" with Comet Tempel 1. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD.

NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft completed its primary mission - excavating a crater in Comet Tempel 1 - on July 4. It was a smashing success, and the spacecraft is now disarmed, like a bee without its stinger. But the flyby spacecraft is still working great and looking for work. NASA is now encouraging proposals from scientists who have some good ideas about what Deep Impact could be used for next. Until a new goal is decided, the agency will put the spacecraft into a parking orbit in the vicinity of the inner planets.

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.

Today's scheduled burn places the spacecraft on a trajectory to fly past Earth in late December 2007. The maneuver allows NASA to preserve options for future use of the spacecraft.

"This maneuver will keep the spacecraft in the vicinity of the inner planets, thereby making the task of tracking and communicating with it easier," said NASA's Director of solar system Division, Science Mission Directorate, Andy Dantzler.

Dantzler announced today that all investigators interested in using the Deep Impact Flyby spacecraft for further science investigations must submit proposals to the 2005 Discovery Program Announcement of Opportunity for a Mission of Opportunity.

"All proposals for use of the Deep Impact spacecraft will be evaluated for science merit and feasibility along with all submitted proposal for Missions of Opportunity," he said. "The spacecraft is being offered as is. Proposers must include mission management and spacecraft operations in the total proposed funding."

Further details will be posted by the end of July on the Discovery Program acquisition site:

http://centauri.larc.nasa.gov/discovery

For information about Deep Impact on the Internet, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/deepimpact




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