This is an image of comet Hale-Bopp.
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National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

Touring the Comets
News story originally written on December 1, 1997

NASA has chosen CONTOUR as the next mission of its Discovery Program. CONTOUR stands for the Comet Nucleus Tour.

CONTOUR will take spectral image maps of at least three comet nuclei and analyze the dust coming from these comets. The comets it will focus on first are the Comet Encke, Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann-3, and the Comet d'Arrest. The mission will be launched in July 2002 and flybys will be continued until at least August of 2008.

The Discovery Program sponsors lower-cost programs. Among its achievements is the NEAR (Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous) program that sent a spacecraft for a flyby of the asteroid Mathilde in June of 1997.


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