Shop Windows to the Universe

We now offer the Cool It! card game in our Science Store. Cool It! is the new card game from UCS that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change.
An artist's conception of Deep Space 1
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of NASA

NASA Tests New Technologies with Deep Space 1

We are far too quick to report disasters when it comes to space exploration...but here's a definite success!

NASA launched a spacecraft called Deep Space 1 on October 15, 1998. Deep Space 1 tested twelve new technologies, including a different type of engine and a smart navigation system. The spacecraft tested the equipment while it flew to a nearby asteroid, called Braille.

The engines on Deep Space 1 used xenon gas as a propellant. Solar panels collected the Sun's energy and used it to give the xenon gas an electric charge. The gas was then accelerated through an electric field to speeds around 65,000 mph (miles per hour). The thrust that was produced was less than the weight of a piece of paper but it still accelerated the spacecraft about 20 mph each day. Its speed continued to build up because there isn't any air resistance in the vacuum of space. Ion-propulsion engines are ten times more efficient than regular rocket engines.

Deep Space 1 also had an onboard navigation system. It kept track of a number of stars and could calculate its own position. Normally, spacecraft have to rely on people at NASA to tell them where they are.

Things went so well in the first two years of the mission, that NASA decided to send Deep Space 1 to visit comet Borrelly in September 2001. It took really great pictures of this comet!

The Deep Space mission ended on December 18, 2001.

Last modified January 9, 2002 by Jennifer Bergman.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books on science education!

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

Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was one of the most important exploration tools of the past two decades, and will continue to serve as a great resource well into the new millennium. The HST found numerous...more

Apollo 11

Driven by a recent surge in space research, the Apollo program hoped to add to the accomplishments of the Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor missions of the late 1960's. Apollo 11 was the name of the first mission...more

Apollo 12

Apollo 12 was launched on Nov. 14, 1969, surviving a lightning strike which temporarily shut down many systems, and arrived at the Moon three days later. Astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean descended...more

Apollo 15

Apollo 15 marked the start of a new series of missions from the Apollo space program, each capable of exploring more lunar terrain than ever before. Launched on July 26, 1971, Apollo 15 reached the Moon...more

Deep Impact Mission

NASA chose Deep Impact to be part of a special series called the Discovery Program on July 7, 1999. The Discovery program specializes in low-cost, scientific projects. In May 2001, Deep Impact was given...more

Galileo

The Galileo spacecraft was launched on October 19, 1989. Galileo had two parts: an orbiter and a descent probe that parachuted into Jupiter's atmosphere. Galileo's main mission was to explore Jupiter and...more

Lunar Orbiter

During 1966 through 1967, five Lunar Orbiter spacecrafts were launched, with the purpose of mapping the Moon's surface in preparation for the Apollo and Surveyor landings. All five missions were successful....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