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continuously.The spacecraft was bombarded by about 1 million particles per second in this dynamic, high-energy environment, but it remained completely functional. Twelve particles, some larger than a bullet, penetrated the top layer of the spacecraft's protective shield. Having completed its visit to the comet, the craft will now return to Earth and make a soft landing in the Utah desert in January 2006.The samples will be analyzed at the planetary material curatorial facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston.

American

The Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR) spacecraft is presumed lost after numerous attempts at contact.The spacecraft was scheduled to ignite its solid rocket engine on August 15, 2003, to move out of Earth's orbit and into a heliocentric trajectory. Following the scheduled firing time, no further contact was made with the craft.Telescopic surveys were made under the assumption that the firing took place on schedule, and three objects were identified near the expected position of CONTOUR, leading investigators to believe that the firing took place and that these objects were parts of the broken spacecraft and rocket engine. The CONTOUR Discovery class mission had as its primary objective close flybys of the comets Encke, Schwassmann-Wachmann-3, and d'Arrest.

Japanese

This mission to collect samples of the asteroid 25143 Itokawa launched in May 2003. The spacecraft was expected to arrive at the asteroids and remain for about three months before heading back to Earth in June 2007. Hayabusa is believed to have touched down on the asteroid on November 20, 2005.Though the probe is thought to have obtained samples of the asteroid, it may not be able to return to Earth because of apparent fuel leaks.

Rosetta 2004

European Space Agency

Rosetta is designed to rendezvous with comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, drop a probe on the surface, study the comet from orbit, and fly by at least one asteroid en route.The principal goals are

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