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This illustration shows an artist concept of the NASA Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR) spacecraft.
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CONTOUR Lost in Space
News story originally written on August 27, 2002

We are sad to report that CONTOUR is lost in space. The CONTOUR spacecraft was launched July 3, 2002 to explore the nucleus of comets. It was to take pictures and catch dust from the nucleus of at least two comets.

CONTOUR was 140 miles above the Earth when communication between the spacecraft and Earth was lost on Aug. 15, 2002 when its rocket ignited to boost the spacecraft out of Earth's orbit.

By searching the skies with a giant telescope, scientists found three objects at the place where CONTOUR should be. CONTOUR was in one piece, so these pictures may mean that it broke apart into three pieces.

Mission controllers may have lost CONTOUR but they have not lost hope! They will continue listening for signals from the spacecraft until December.


Last modified August 27, 2002 by Lisa Gardiner.

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