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DEEP SPACE 1 (DS1)

DEEP SPACE 1 (DS1) : New Millennium Deep Space 1 (DS1): Launched on October 24, 1998, the DS1 spacecraft flew past asteroid (9969) Braille on July 28, 1999 but camera problems limited the data received during this encounter. When the star tracker, a device used to navigate the spacecraft, became inoperable, the imaging camera was programmed to carry out the necessary navigation functions. The spacecraft made a very successful flyby to within 2000 kilometers of Comet Borrelly on September 22, 2001.

The primary purpose of this mission is to test new technologies in space including an ion drive rocket engine, a new type of solar panel that concentrates sunlight, and an autonomous navigation system that uses the known positions of well observed asteroids to guide the spacecraft to its destinations. When the ion drive rocket engine is operating, electrons are emitted from a hollow bar called a cathode into a chamber ringed by magnets, much like the cathodes in TV picture tubes. The electrons strike the atoms of xenon, knocking away one of the 54 electrons orbiting the atom's nucleus. The xenon atoms lose electrons and thus become charged particles, or ions. At the rear of the chamber, a pair of oppositely charged metal grids accelerates these ions to a velocity of about 60,000 miles per hour to provide the rocket engine's thrust.

DS1 Science Instruments:
Imager, IR spectrometer, UV spectrometer, plasma package

The DS1 spacecraft was built by Spectrum Astro under contract to the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The project management is also located at JPL.

Look here for additional information on the DS1 mission:

http://nmp.jpl.nasa.gov/ds1

[Image of DS1 near comet]

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