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More Evidence Shows Breakup of Cometary Probe

August 22, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

Astronomers tracking NASA's missing Contour spacecraft say they now see three objects traveling together in the area where the spacecraft should be, providing further evidence that the cometary probe has broken apart.

The $159-million spacecraft has been silent since Thursday when it fired its motor to break out of Earth's orbit.

The craft is now more than 1 million miles from Earth and is speeding away at about 13,600 mph.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab said they would continue efforts to contact the spacecraft through today, but mission director Robert Farquhar admitted that "there's not much room for optimism."

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