Explore deep space with NASA DS1

NASA's Deep Space 1 mission, launched late last month, has caught the fancy of the general public with its emphasis on science fiction-like technical wizardry.

As it has done in the past, the space agency is making use of the World Wide Web to explain the significance of the program and to provide updates as the mission progresses. And as usual, NASA has put together a nice package that satisfies viewers with interests in varying levels of information.

The DS1 site, found at www.jpl.nasa.gov/ds1, is a neat package with logically organized information and crisply designed pages.

From the home page, users can take four different paths to explore DS1.

The Project section lays out the overarching importance of the mission as a "space-borne test bed" for NASA engineers setting the stage for future deep-space programs. Users then can drill down to get more details on

the three operations being carried out: testing new technologies, getting a close-up of an asteroid and tailing a comet.

An omnipresent menu bar at the bottom of the page allows users to navigate easily from one section to another. For example, while the Project section gives one-paragraph descriptions of the technologies being tested, viewers can jump quickly to the Technology section to get more detailed information. Also, a menu on the left side of each page allows users to jump from one topic in a section to the next one.

The Technology section provides links to more detailed descriptions of each technology, with charts and illustrations used liberally to supplement the text. This section also covers the makeup of the spacecraft itself. The site further simplifies navigation by allowing users to jump from one technology description to another without going back to the Technology home page.

The Science section delves into the scientific objectives and milestones of DS1 as well as a list of references and related Web sites.

The Education section tries to make some of the basic information on DS1 more accessible to students and identifies other Web sites and space-related programs that students and teachers might be interested in exploring.

For example, from the Getting Into Space section of the Education page, viewers can go to the Space Educator's Handbook to download a set of multimedia programs that teach about the history and science of space exploration and travel, or they can find out more information about NASA's Space Camp program.

In the months and years ahead, site visitors can return to the DS1 home page to get regular updates on the mission's progress and download images.

Space aficionados interested in learning more about the big picture should go to the DS1 home page and click on the New Millennium Program link.

This site spells out the full sequence of Deep Space missions and two Earth orbiters that NASA has planned, each of which will test a different set of technologies.

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