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Published 15 September 2010 Press Release: KinetX, Inc. KinetX Sponsors NASA Conference Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the First Comet Encounter On September 10, 2010, KinetX, Inc., a Tempe, Arizona firm providing innovative engineering, software and hardware solutions to a wide variety of industries, hosted a conference celebrating the 25th anniversary of the first comet encounter by a robotic spacecraft. That first encounter happened on September 11, 1985 when the ISEE-3/ICE spacecraft’s ongoing mission at a Sun-Earth libration was interrupted to target it to intercept the path of the comet Giacobini-Zinner.  This bold, flawlessly executed move by NASA and the ISEE-3/ICE team provided the first-ever comet encounter, establishing a foundation for the space-born discoveries that continue today.

The conference held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. was attended by industry and NASA notables.  Dr. James Green, NASA’s Director of Planetary Science, gave a session on comets as well as the luncheon address.  Dwayne Brown, NASA HQ spokesperson, served as emcee.  Principle Investigators from past and present comet missions included Dr. Joseph Ververke (Stardust-NExT) and Dr. Michael A’Hearn (Deep Impact/EPOXI).  Other participants included KinetX’ Dr. Robert Farquhar, former flight dynamics manager of the ISEE-3/ICE mission, and Dr. Anita Cochran, assistant director of the McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas at Austin, who discussed what we have (and hope to) learn from cometary science.

The successful Deep Impact and Stardust missions as well as their exciting follow-on missions, EPOXI and Stardust-NExT, respectively, were discussed in detail.  NASA’s EPOXI mission will most closely encounter the Hartley 2 comet on November 4, 2010.  NASA’s Stardust-NExT mission will most closely encounter the Tempel 1 comet on February 14, 2011.

Concluding remarks were provided by Dwayne Brown and KinetX President and CEO, Kjell Stakkestad.  The presentations were broadcast live on NASA TV.

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