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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.
Messenger will begin its long journey to Mercury, in 2004. It will be loaded with special instruments to study 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. Messenger will be the first mission to Mercury since the Mariner 10 flyby in 1975.
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 spacecraft will collide with the comet on July 4, 2005.
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.
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