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An artist's conception of Deep Space 1
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NASA Tests New Technologies with Deep Space 1
News story originally written on October 25, 1998

NASA just launched a spacecraft called Deep Space 1. It is going to test some new equipment. During the tests, it will fly to a nearby asteroid and take pictures of it.

Deep Space 1 has a new kind of engine. It uses xenon gas. (Xenon is like neon or helium, only heavier.) The engine doesn't produce very much thrust. The force is less the the weight of a piece of paper! But it will add up since there isn't any air in space to slow the spacecraft down. The new engine uses ten times less fuel than a normal rocket engine.

The spacecraft also has a new navigation system. Older spacecraft had to rely on people at NASA to tell them where they were. Deep Space 1 can keep track of where it it by itself so it only needs to contact NASA if there's a problem. It will also decide how close to fly to the asteroid.


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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF