Status Report

Deep Space 1 Mission Log Mission Update: 23 Sep 2001

By SpaceRef Editor
September 23, 2001
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Thank you for visiting the Deep Space 1 mission status information
site, the most popular site in the Milky Way galaxy for information
on this daring mission of exploration. This message was logged at
6:30 pm on Sunday, September 23.

Deep Space 1 plunged into the heart of comet Borrelly and has lived
to tell every detail of it! The amazing little spacecraft was
fantastically successful in its encounter with the mysterious comet
on September 22. Many recent mission logs have described why this
probably would not work, but it did work, and it worked far far
better than expected. (For more technical details on the challenges
of this encounter, visit In
fact, everything went so well on encounter day that my biggest
concern was the seismic risk to Southern California when thunderous
applause erupted in mission control upon the return of the images!
When we saw them, the room was just filled with almost unbridled
elation. We had low expectations, so the enormity of the success was
that much more wonderful. The tremendous excitement stems from being
the very first humans ever to glimpse the secrets that this comet has
held since the birth of the solar system. In addition, after years
of nursing this aged and wounded bird along — a spacecraft not
designed to explore comets, a probe that exceeded its objectives more
than 2 years ago — after struggling to keep it going through long
nights and stressful days, to see it perform its remarkably complex
and risky assignment so well was nothing short of incredible.

I honestly did not think it was up to the task. In fact, even though
we had strong indications during the encounter that it was collecting
the data we wanted, I tried to keep everyone from getting too
excited. I felt we had to accomplish two key tasks: 1) get the
science data from the spacecraft to Earth, and 2) persuade ourselves
we weren’t dreaming. We’ve now done both!

The images and other data we collected from comet Borrelly are going
to make great contributions to scientists’ efforts to learn more
about these intriguing members of the solar system family. We’re
going to gain a great deal of completely new and absolutely
fascinating insights into comets and perhaps into the origin and
evolution of Earth.

This log is short because your correspondent is thoroughly exhausted.
The last few logs describe what we hoped to accomplish, and one of
the great surprises of the day is that we achieved everything we set
out to. JPL will be releasing pictures and other information through
its Media Relations Office in the coming days. There is a small
chance there will be a new log later this week. More likely however,
the next one will be early in November. Your loyal correspondent is
scheduled to attend an international conference on space exploration
in just a few days. Following that will be some time to return to
Earth after this cosmic high, and then the logs will resume with a
more thorough description of this truly historic event. You will
read about the exciting science, the challenging engineering, and the
spectacular human drama that collectively add up to a truly
astonishing success story. And you will read about the end of the
Deep Space 1 Extended Mission and its brief follow-on, which I like
to call the Deep Space 1 Hyperextended Mission. So there’s more to
come in the continuing exciting adventures of Deep Space 1, one of
humankind’s most wonderful ambassadors to the cosmos.

Deep Space 1 is now 1.6 million kilometers, or 1 million miles, past
comet Borrelly. (BTW, it’s really neat to see the countdown clock in
mission control showing the time to encounter now as “T +” a time
rather than “T -” a time!)

Deep Space 1 is nearly 1.5 times as far from Earth as the Sun is and
575 times as far as the moon. At this distance of 220 million
kilometers, or 137 million miles, radio signals, traveling at the
universal limit of the speed of light, take 24 and a half minutes to
make the round trip.

Thanks again for visiting!

P.S. We did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SpaceRef staff editor.