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Will NEAR's mission be extended?
Posted: Tue, Feb 13, 2001, 6:42 PM ET (2342 GMT)
Illustration of NEAR landing on Eros NASA is mulling a seven- to ten-day extension to the NEAR Shoemaker mission to give scientists more time to study the surface of the asteroid Eros, according to reports. SPACE.com reported Tuesday afternoon that NASA may allow the mission to use project funding reserves to extend the mission, which is scheduled to end tomorrow, one year after the spacecraft entered orbit around the asteroid. The additional time would give scientists more of a chance to study the asteroid using instruments such as an x-ray and gamma-ray spectrometer. Still under discussion is a proposal to fly the spacecraft on a short "hop" several hundred meters above the surface, landing again on a different region of the asteroid, although SpaceDaily quoted a project spokesperson Tuesday who said such a flight was unlikely. A final decision on a mission extension, as well as any possible hops, is expected to be announced at a press conference scheduled for Wednesday at 1 pm EST (1800 GMT).
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