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CONTOUR recovery efforts ramp down
Posted: Sat, Aug 24, 2002, 11:57 AM ET (1557 GMT)
CONTOUR spacecraft illustration (NASA/JHUAPL) CONTOUR project officials announced Friday that nearly-continuous efforts to reestablish contact with the spacecraft have ended, further reducing hopes that the mission can be salvaged. The project had round-the-clock access to NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) since it declared an emergency on August 15 when the spacecraft did not resume communications after firing its thruster to leave Earth orbit. After all attempts to resume contact with CONTOUR failed, the project relinquished its access to the DSN, instead planning only one eight-our session a week. "We don't want to take DSN time that could be used more effectively by other missions," mission director Robert Farquhar said. The project will continue this schedule until early to mid-December, when it will make one final all-out effort to contact CONTOUR when the alignment of the spacecraft's antennas with Earth is optimum. Officials are no closer to understanding what happened to the spacecraft during or shortly after its engine burn. Telescopic images have discovered what could be a third piece of debris from the spacecraft, although CONTOUR is now far enough from Earth that further imaging will likely provide little new information.
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