Shop Windows to the Universe

The Winter 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist includes a variety of educational resources, ranging from astronomy to glaciers. Check out the other publications and classroom materials in our online store.
Mosaic taken by Mariner 10.
Click on image for full size
NASA

NASA Names Next Two Discovery Missions
News story originally written on July 9, 1999

NASA has chosen the next two projects that will join a special series called the Discovery Program. This program specializes in low cost, scientific projects. Out of 26 possible projects, Messenger (the Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging), and Deep Impact missions were chosen. Both are scheduled to begin early in the next century.

Messenger will begin its long journey to the innermost planet of our Solar System, Mercury, in 2004. It will be loaded with special instruments to investigate the surface and interior of the tiny planet. Probably the most important goal of the mission is the search for ice near the polar craters. Johns Hopkins University will be in charge of the program, which is estimated at $286 million. Messenger will be the first mission to Mercury since the Mariner 10 flyby in 1975.

"These low-cost missions are both fantastic examples of the creativity of the space science community," said Dr. Edward Weiler, associate administrator for space science at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. "Messenger is a flagship-quality effort that, in tandem with a separate Pluto mission, enables us to seize the opportunity to complete our historic initial reconnaissance of the Solar System."

Deep Impact is the other project that will join the Discovery Program. The mission is simple, send a large spacecraft to crash into Comet Tempel 1. Scientists can then study the core of the comet. Moving at speeds up to 22,300 MPH, the copper projectile will collide with the comet on July 4, 2005. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will run the project, which is estimated at $240 million.

"Deep Impact presents a special chance to do some truly unique science, and it is a direct complement to the other two comet missions already in the Discovery Program," said Dr. Weiler. These two missions are called Stardust and Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR). Stardust will gather comet dust and bring it back to Earth, while CONTOUR will fly by three different comets.

A similar project that would have landed a probe on Tempel 1 was recently scrapped by NASA because of a lack of funding. There are currently six projects working under the Discovery Program. Two of them have already completed their primary missions. Lunar Prospector has successfully mapped the Moon's composition and gravity field, and Mars Pathfinder landed on the Red Planet and took several photographs.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes books on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist, mineral and fossil specimens, and educational games!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Comet Probe Mission is Scrapped

A mission that would have sent a probe to comet Tempel 1 has been postponed indefinitely. This mission, the first of it's kind, would have landed on the comet in 2005. Unfortunately, other projects have...more

1999--A Year in Review...

It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more

STS-95 Launch: "Let the wings of Discovery lift us on to the future."

The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more

Moon Found Orbiting Asteroid

A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more

U.S. is Fed Up with Russia

Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more

More on Recent Coronal Mass Ejection

During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more

Mother Nature's Air Conditioning

J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service has referred to forests as the "heart and lungs of the world." Forests reduce soil erosion, maintain water quality, contribute to atmospheric humidity and cloud...more

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