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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 is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA