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EPOXI to flyby comet Hartley 2 in November


NASA's Deep Impact/EPOXI spacecraft flew past Earth on June 27, 2010, to get a boost from Earthís gravity. It is now on its way to comet Hartley 2, depicted in this artistís concept, with a planned flyby this fall. NASA/JPL-Caltech photo

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA (BNS): NASA's Deep Impact/EPOXI spacecraft flew past Earth on Sunday and is now on its way to its appointment with comet Hartley 2.

Mission navigators have tailored this trajectory so the spacecraft can "hitch a ride" on Earth's gravity field. "This flyby will give our spacecraft a 1.5-kilometer-per-second [3,470 mph] boost, setting us up to get up close and personal with comet Hartley 2," Tim Larson, EPOXI project manager was earlier quoted as saying.

On November 4 this year, the mission will fly by Hartley 2 using all three of the spacecraft's instruments - two telescopes with digital imagers and an infrared spectrometer, a NASA/JPL statement said.

The members of the EPOXI team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are currently working with data returned from the flyby to refine the spacecraft trajectory estimates.

EPOXI is an extended mission of the Deep Impact spacecraft. Its name is derived from its two tasked science investigations -- the Extrasolar Planet Observation and Characterization (EPOCh) and the Deep Impact Extended Investigation (DIXI).

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