CONTOUR Forward Imager on the Comet Nucleus Tour Mission

S. J. Conard, J. W. Warren, O. S. Barnouin-Jha, James Bell, J. D. Boldt, A. F. Bowman, A. L. Cochran, E. H. Darlington, T. Deluzio, D. Fiore, D. Garcia, B. L. Gotwols, M. P. Grey, A. Harch, J. R. Hayes, K. J. Heffernan, D. C. Humm, N. R. Izenberg, K. E. Kosakowski, H. M. LutherD. S. Mehoke, S. L. Murchie, L. M. Prockter, B. Rider, D. Sampath, E. D. Schaefer, S. Svenson, H. W. Taylor, P. L. Thompson, J. Veverka, R. L. Williams, P. Wilson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


A filtered imager, the CONTOUR Forward Imager (CFI), was designed, fabricated, and qualified for the Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR) Discovery class mission. The CONTOUR spacecraft was launched July 3, 2002, and failed during injection to heliocentric orbit on August 15, 2002. This paper provides an overview of the efforts to produce CFI. The CFI imager was designed to perform optical navigation, comet nucleus imaging, and comet coma imaging. The CONTOUR Remote Imager and Spectrometer (CRISP) complemented CFI in the CONTOUR payload. The emphasis in the CFI design was on high sensitivity at moderate to long ranges from the comet nucleus, while CRISP was designed for high-speed observations in close to the nucleus. A unique aspect of CFI was the requirement to image multiple comets after being exposed to high-velocity cometary dust on the previous comet flybys (which damages and contaminates the forward looking optics). The first optical surface was replaceable between comet encounters, using a fold mirror mechanism, to alleviate the dust damage. Another challenging aspect of the design was that the spacecraft was thruster stabilized (no reaction wheels), placing limits on the available exposure time to accomplish the high sensitivity observations required. CFI utilized ten filters covering from 300 to 920 nm to image onto a backthinned 1024 by 1024 element CCD. A Ritchey-Chretien telescope provided a clear aperture of 60 mm, a full field of view of 2.5 degrees, and a pixel field of view of 43 microradians. CFI was designed and fabricated by a combined effort of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and SSG Precision Optronics. The CONTOUR mission was lost prior to CFI being powered on in flight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
EditorsR.B. Hoover, A.Y. Rozanov
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes
EventInstruments, Methods, and Mission for Astrobiology VII - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 3 2003Aug 4 2003


OtherInstruments, Methods, and Mission for Astrobiology VII
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • Comet
  • Imager
  • Space
  • Ultraviolet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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