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NASA announces Discovery mission finalists
Posted: Thu, Jan 4, 2001, 11:31 PM ET (0431 GMT)
NASA has selected proposals to study asteroids, Jupiter, and extrasolar planets as the finalists for the next Discovery-class planetary science mission, the space agency announced Thursday. From 26 proposals submitted last August, NASA has selected three for further study: Dawn, a mission to orbit the asteroids Ceres and Vesta; INSIDE Jupiter, a Jupiter orbiter that would map the planet's magnetic and gravity fields in an effort to study the giant planet's interior structure; and Kepler, a space telescope that would search for Earth-sized planets around other stars. Kepler and INSIDE Jupiter have been submitted to past rounds of the Discovery program, while Dawn appears to be a new proposal. One mission will be selected later this year for full funding, with a September 2006 launch deadline and budget of $299 million. NASA also said Thursday it was funding a "mission of opportunity" to provide seismic and wind sensors for the French "NetLander" mission, a network of four spacecraft that will land on Mars in 2007.
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