The subtracted image below reveals two objects that are believed to be parts of the CONTOUR spacecraft, radio contact with which had been lost the day before following a commanded large velocity impulse maneuver.This subtracted image reveals moving objects by pairs of images, one dark and one bright. The images used in the subtraction were taken by Jim Scotti with the Spacewatch 1.8-meter telescope on Kitt Peak on 2002 August 16. There are two parallel trails near one of the predicted positions of the CONTOUR spacecraft.
These trails were discovered and measured by Jeff Larsen during his re-examination of the data. The curvature of the trails is a natural characteristic of the drift scanning process at this high declination.The images are oriented with north at the right and west up. The fact that there are two trails indicates that the spacecraft must have separated into two pieces that are still moving in nearly parallel directions.
Media: Please indicate (c) 2002 The Spacewatch Project, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, The University of Arizona in any reproductions of these images.
Two objects possibly belonging to the CONTOUR spacecraft
According to David Dunham of the CONTOUR Mission Team -
At the request of CONTOUR Mission Control, Spacewatch reviewedthe initial observation images for further fragments of theCONTOUR spacecraft. The extremely faint trail below was found near the expected position of the CONTOUR spacecraft if the solid rocket motor burn completed. This piece is separated from the first two fragments found by roughly 6000 km.
Possible third piece of the CONTOUR spacecraft
2002 December 20, NASA Abandons Search for CONTOUR Spacecraft.