One of the two missions that was not selected under NASA’s Discovery Program was the Comet Hopper or “CHopper” mission to the comet Wirtanen.
Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/University of Maryland

A CHopper That Would Have Had an Amazing Ride

By Jason Rhian

The name of one of the two missions not selected under NASA’s Discovery Program sounds like something off of the television series American Chopper – CHopper. However CHopper would have packed a bigger punch and would have traveled much farther than your average motorcycle.

The mission’s name stands for Comet Hopper, and would have seen a spacecraft travel along with a comet as the dirty snowball travels throughout the solar system. CHopper hit the chopping block along with the Titan Mare Explorer or TiME mission to Saturn’s moon, Titan.

After a review in August 2012, NASA chose InSight, a mission that will use the proven Phoenix Mars Lander’s design to study the composition of the Red Planet’s interior.

Jessica Sunshine was the proposed mission’s principal investigator. Sunshine is with the University of Maryland and would have coordinated with Lockheed-Martin to build and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to manage the spacecraft.

CHopper was one of three finalists under NASA’s Discovery Program, an effort to see smaller, lower-cost missions launched to destinations throughout the solar system. Each finalist received $3 million to develop a study as to what science each mission would accomplish.

The selection of InSight over the other two applicants caused an outcry from the space community. Many felt that too much attention and funding was being paid to Mars and not enough to the outer solar system and near Earth objects or “NEOs”.

Read more: A CHopper That Would Have Had an Amazing Ride « AmericaSpace.

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