Something Old, Something New...
The Deep Space 1 spacecraft was launched in 1998. It tested twelve new space exploration technologies, including a new propulsion system. In testing the new equipment, it flew past the Near-Earth Asteroid Braille. The mission was then extended to include a fly-by of Comet Borrelly in September 2001. It took the best images ever taken of a comet. The Deep Space 1 mission officially ended on December 18, 2001, but the mission was certainly a great success!
News story originally written on January 4, 2002
Has the Yohkoh spacecraft mission also come to an end? We'll have to wait and see! On December 14, 2001, the Japanese spacecraft experienced a power shutdown to the science instruments. This power shutdown was triggered by an eclipse of the Sun that occurred over parts of the Pacific Ocean that same day. Efforts are being made to recover the spacecraft. The Yohkoh spacecraft was launched in 1991 and will be considered a great success even if the spacecraft can't be recovered. Yohkoh was especially well known for providing real-time monitoring of solar activity and new data for space weather studies.
Two new missions have recently been selected by NASA: Dawn and Kepler. Dawn is a spacecraft that will study two of the largest asteroids in our solar system, Vesta and Ceres. Dawn is scheduled to be launched in May 2006. Kepler is a telescope that will search for
Earth-like planets around nearby stars. This is an especially timely choice given Hubble Space Telescope's recent detection of an extrasolar planetary atmosphere. Kepler is also scheduled for launch in 2006. Both missions are part of NASA's Discovery program.