CONTOUR (Comet Nucleus Tour) was a probe to flyby at least two comets (Comet 2P/Encke encounter: 12 November 2003 and Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann-3 encounter: 18 June 2006) with a number of earth swing-bys (August 2003, August 2004, Februar 2005, Februar 2006). It featured four instruments:
CONTOUR was launched by a Delta-7425 into a highly eccentric earth phasing orbit, where after 45 days the integrated Star-30BP kick motor was fired to propell the probe into its interplanetary trajectory. After the primary mission at Encke and Schwassmann-Wachmann-3, the probe could have been directed to an yet undiscovered comet.
On August 16. 2002 the kick motor was fired, but contact with the probe was lost. Images by Spacewatch showed three objects near the location of CONTOUR and a DSP early warning satellite observed a bright flare three seconds before the end of the burn, so one can assume, that the probe was destroyed due to a kick motor malfunction.
Currently APL studies the option of building a repeat CONTOUR 2 probe, which might be launched by a larger launch vehicle, thus eliminating the need to use a internal kick motor.
|Type / Application:||Multiple comet flybys|
|Contractors:||Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL)|
|Equipment:||CRISP, CFI, CIDA, NGIMS|
|Configuration:||Octagonal body, dust shields|
|Propulsion:||Star-30BP kick motor|
|Power:||Body mounted solar-arrays, batteries|
|Orbit:||Initially 90 km × 106689 km, 30.5°, later Heliocentric|
|CONTOUR (Discovery 6)||2002-034A||03.07.2002||CC SLC-17A||Delta-7425 [Star-30BP]|