An assault on comets. (Astronomy).
CONTOUR, or Comet Nucleus Tour, is scheduled to dose in on its second target, Comet Schwassman-Wachmann 3, until June 19, 2006. That comet should prove especially interesting to astronomers because in 1995, it broke into several large pieces. CONTOUR will take dose-up pictures and measure the chemical composition of the icy nucleus of both Encke and Schwassman-Wachmann 3, as well as explore their huge shrouds of gas and dust.
In 2004, before CONTOUR's second comet encounter, a spacecraft called Stardust, launched in 1999, will sweep close enough to Comet Wild-2 to collect gas and dust samples and carry them back to Earth. And if all goes according to plan, NASA expects to launch another craft, Deep Impact, in 2004. It will fire projectile into Comet Tempel 1 in 2005 and study debris from the 25-meter-crater it will gouge.--R.C.
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|Title Annotation:||CONTOUR - or Comet Nucleus Tour|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Aug 3, 2002|
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