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20-Dec-02 | CONTOUR mission failure

NASA’s Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR) has come to a disappointing end. Communication with CONTOUR was lost on 15 August during its Earth-orbit departure burn in what may have been a catastrophic failure. On 17 and 20 December, the largest antennae of the Deep Space Network were used to send commands instructing CONTOUR to transmit through its omnidirectional antenna in the hope that it might bleat out a response. None was heard, and mission operators will recommend to NASA that further attempts not be made, and the project formally closed down. The investigative board led by NASA Chief Engineer Theron Bradley is expected to release its preliminary findings in January.

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