This is an image of comet Hale-Bopp.
Click on image for full size
National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

Touring the Comets
News story originally written on December 1, 1997

NASA has chosen CONTOUR as the next mission of its Discovery Program. CONTOUR stands for the Comet Nucleus Tour.

CONTOUR will take spectral image maps of at least three comet nuclei and analyze the dust coming from these comets. The comets it will focus on first are the Comet Encke, Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann-3, and the Comet d'Arrest. The mission will be launched in July 2002 and flybys will be continued until at least August of 2008.

The Discovery Program sponsors lower-cost programs. Among its achievements is the NEAR (Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous) program that sent a spacecraft for a flyby of the asteroid Mathilde in June of 1997.

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

NEAR FLyby of Asteroid Mathilde

On June 27, 1997, the NEAR spacecraft passed within 1200 km of the asteroid Mathilde. NEAR stands for Near Earth Asteroid Rendevous. It is one of NASA's Discovery missions, a series of small-scale spacecraft...more

1999--A Year in Review...

It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more

STS-95 Launch: "Let the wings of Discovery lift us on to the future."

The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more

Moon Found Orbiting Asteroid

A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more

U.S. is Fed Up with Russia

Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more

More on Recent Coronal Mass Ejection

During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more

Mother Nature's Air Conditioning

J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service has referred to forests as the "heart and lungs of the world." Forests reduce soil erosion, maintain water quality, contribute to atmospheric humidity and cloud...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