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NASA extends NEAR mission up to 10 days
Updated: Wed, Feb 14, 2001, 2:50 PM ET (1950 GMT)
Originally Posted: Wed, Feb 14, 2001, 2:14 PM ET (1914 GMT)
Illustration of NEAR landing on Eros NASA announced this afternoon that they have extended the mission of the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft up to 10 days to perform additional observations from the asteroid's surface. The extension, first reported earlier in the day by CNN and other media outlets, will give scientists time to use some of NEAR's instruments, primarily an X-ray and gamma-ray spectrometer, to study the composition of the asteroid's surface at resolutions not possible from orbit. It's unlikely, however, that NEAR will fire its thrusters to perform a short "hop" flight to land on another region of the asteroid, as the spacecraft has little propellant left and the current science objectives can be met by keeping the spacecraft in its current location. The extension will likely be funded out of project reserves, as funding for the mission was scheduled to end Wednesday.
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