NASA's Deep Impact/Epoxi spacecraft has successfully performed a trajectory correction manoeuvre to refine its orbit prior to an upcoming Earth flyby 27 June. The manoeuvre, along with the Earth flyby, will place the spacecraft on a trajectory to fly past comet Hartley 2 on 4 November.
The manoeuvre began at 2 PM EST today, when the spacecraft fired its engines for 11.3 seconds. While the burn changed the spacecraft's velocity by only 0.1 metres per second (less than a quarter mile per hour), that was all the mission's navigators requested to set the stage for an Earth gravity assist on 27 June.
'While it was a small burn, it was a big step in getting us to Hartley 2,' said Tim Larson, project manager of NASA's Epoxi mission. 'Humanity's fifth close-up view of a comet is less than five months away.'
Epoxi is an extended mission of the Deep Impact spacecraft. Its name is derived from its two tasked science investigations - the Deep Impact Extended Investigation (DIXI) and the Extrasolar Planet Observation and Characterisation (EPOCh).
The University of Maryland is the Principal Investigator institution. JPL manages Epoxi for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The spacecraft was built for NASA by Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo.