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The COmet Nucleus TOUR or "Contour" mission will visit 3 comets (P/Encke, P/SW3 and P/d'Arrest), building on the results from the Halley flybys to increase our knowledge of cometary characteristics and diversity. The measurements will include imaging with a resolution of 4 m, spectral mapping of the surface, and compositional analysis of the gas and dust in the near-nucleus region. The instrumentation will consist of an imager/spectrometer, an aft imager, a dust analyzer and a neutral gas ion mass spectrometer. Additional Contour infomation may be found here.

Mission Timeline

  • Jul. 04, 2002 - Launch - Delta 7325 (Med-Lite)
  • Aug. 13, 2002 - Injection maneuver
  • Aug. 2003 - Earth Flyby
  • Nov. 12, 2003 - Encke encounter
  • Aug. 2004 - Earth Flyby
  • Feb. 2006 - Earth Flyby
  • Jun. 18, 2006 - SW3 encounter
  • Feb. 2007 - Earth Flyby
  • Feb. 2008 - Earth Flyby
  • Aug. 16, 2008 - D'Arrest encounter

IRTF Mission Support

  • Knowledge of the nucleus/asteroid sizes and rotation are needed to plan the photographic aspects of the mission, as well as to estimate the gravity field. The IRTF is ideally suited for obtaining nucleus parameters, such as size, albedo and rotation, which requires simultaneous thermal IR and optical measurements.
  • Excellent models of the dust environment of P/Tempel 1 will be needed to allow for proper protection of the spacecraft and to ensure adequate sampling of the dust.
  • Big IRTF campaign during 11/003 for Earth approach of 0.2 AU
  • There is a plan for a large IRTF and optical P/Encke campaign.

Last Updated on December 16, 1999

This page has been visited times since October 1999.
Karen Meech, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii