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The search for the Contour spacecraft will continue, but only for 8 hours a week

Apparently the ``Contour'' research satellite, worth 159 million dollars, broke into several pieces when detaching from the rocket that brought it into space; The satellite parts are now orbiting the sun

Avi Blizovsky

Illustration of CONTOUR.
$159 million is apparently lost

Update 28 / 8 / 02
The hope of saving the CONTOUR spacecraft is slim - that's what the scientists in charge of the mission said on Tuesday. The scientists added that they aim to launch a replacement spacecraft for the already existing CONTOUR
In 2006.

Contact with CONTOUR was severed on August 15th. The spacecraft, whose mission was to gather information about comets, then left its temporary orbit around the Earth in order to begin its journey, during which it was supposed to pass by at least two comets (the first planned meeting was with Comet Anka in 2003). Telescope images show that the spacecraft, which cost 159 million dollars, broke into three parts.
This indicates that the spacecraft fired a solid fuel rocket, which was supposed to launch it into its planned orbit, and was destroyed during the operation or shortly after.

"We are not very optimistic about the chances that the spacecraft will be operational again, but we have not lost hope," said Robert Farkuhr, CONTOUR mission manager. The scientists responsible for the mission searched for signals from the spacecraft for nine days in a row, but from now on they will search once a week for eight hours. The mission will be declared a final failure if no signal is received by December, during which one of the spacecraft's antennas will be pointed toward Earth for two or three days.
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NASA has found the spacecraft it lost

by Tamara Traubman
22/8/2002
A week ago, contact was lost with the Contour spacecraft, which was orbiting the Earth; The spacecraft may have broken into pieces

The American space agency (NASA) announced yesterday (Wednesday) that it had found the spacecraft that was lost last Thursday. The spacecraft was found thanks to the help of six telescopes that were looking for it. However, there is a possibility that the spacecraft, which has stopped radio communication with Earth since Thursday, broke into pieces.

The spacecraft, known as Contour, was launched on July 3 and has been orbiting the Earth since then. Its mission was to study comets, which are considered ancient relics from the beginning of our solar system.

Last Thursday, a NASA spokesperson stated that Kontor "was lost just when it was supposed to leave Earth's orbit, and continue following the comet." Contour was flying at an altitude of about 225 km above the Indian Ocean, when contact with her was lost. "As part of the search for her, we used telescopes, radar devices and radio probes."

Today NASA announced that the spacecraft was discovered as it orbited the Sun. It is not yet clear what went wrong. However, according to Don Savage, the spokesperson for the project, the agency's personnel maintain "cautious optimism" and believe that there is a chance to save the spacecraft, which was built at a cost of 159 million dollars.

The American space agency, NASA, located yesterday (Wednesday) the research satellite worth 159 million dollars that disappeared since it was launched last week.
Astronomers and amateur space watchers took several pictures of the parts of the 'Contour' satellite which apparently broke into several parts during the separation from the rocket that brought it into space and now its parts are circling the sun.
The satellite was supposed to study two comets in the next four years and its loss is considered a severe blow to NASA. The space agency does not know what exactly happened to the satellite, but images taken using several telescopes raise the possibility that it broke into pieces during separation from its mother rocket.

The mission's director, Robert Farquhar, said this weekend that he was not optimistic about the fate of the satellite, which was supposed to begin transmitting radio signals on Thursday.
Despite this, the mission team will continue to try to contact the satellite, in the almost desperate hope of receiving a signal of life from it.

25/08/02

NASA's Contour spacecraft exploded into pieces on its way to rendezvous with a comet

The Contour spacecraft, which was supposed to intercept a comet and study the ice of its nucleus and particles from the halo and its tail, broke into pieces during an acceleration maneuver it performed in its orbit when it was passing the moon. NASA engineers lost contact with the spacecraft, and after several failed attempts, a search effort began using powerful telescopes belonging to the "Space Watch" project (which usually tracks asteroids approaching Earth). Indeed, the telescopes discovered three pieces of debris moving along the spacecraft's planned trajectory, evidence that a devastating explosion occurred that caused the destruction of the spacecraft. The engineers are trying to check what happened when the engine was started and what were the reasons for the malfunction.

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