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
NASA launched Deep Space 1 on October 15, 1998. Deep Space 1 tested twelve new technologies,
including an ion propulsion drive and an artificial intelligence
navigation system. In testing the new equipment, it flew past the
Braille. Since everything went so well during the first two years of the mission, the mission was
extended to include a fly-by of Comet
Borrelly in September 2001. Deep Space 1 took the best images ever taken of a comet during this fly-by!
The spacecraft, Deep Space 1, was the first launch from NASA's New Millennium
program, a program that is testing new technology with the hopes of
making space travel easier and more affordable. "Deep Space 1 is taking
the risks so that future missions don't have to," said Marc Rayman, chief
engineer and deputy mission manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The engines on Deep Space 1 used solar energy to ionize xenon gas. The ionized xenon gas was then accelerated through an electric
field to speeds of 65,000 mph. The thrust exerted was less force than the
weight of a single piece of paper. Still, this was enough to
accelerate the spacecraft about 20 mph each day. Since there isn't air
resistance in the vacuum of space, the speed continued to build. Ion-propulsion engines are ten times more efficient than regular rockets engines. While
normal rocket engines operate on the order of minutes, the ion engine
operates on the order of weeks.
Deep Space 1 also controlled its own destiny, in a manner of speaking.
It had an onboard navigation system which could locate stars and calculate
its position, rather than relying on ground operators to tell it where it
The Deep Space mission came to a close on December 18, 2001. Deep Space 1 was definitely another success in space missions!
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, ranging from seismology
, rocks and minerals
, and Earth system science
You might also be interested in:
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 is credited...more
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 first mission to succeed...more
Apollo 12 survived a lightning strike during its launch on Nov. 14, 1969, and arrived at the Moon three days later. Astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean descended to the surface, while Richard Gordon...more
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
NASA chose Deep Impact to be part of a special series called the Discovery Program on July 7, 1999. In May 2001, Deep Impact was given the "go" from NASA to start with mission development. Deep Impact...more
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 primary mission was to explore the Jovian...more
During 1966 through 1967, five identical Lunar Orbiter spacecrafts were launched, with the purpose of mapping the Moon's surface and finding smooth, level terrain, in preparation for the Apollo and Surveyor...more