The initial phase of a spacecraft's encounter with a target, especially a planet. This begins the high-priority, data-gathering period of operations for which the mission is intended. The far encounter phase begins when a planet's full disc no longer fits within the field of view of the spacecraft's instruments. Images and other observations are then made of parts of the planet rather than its whole disc. During this encounter, new features may be observed and the spacecraft's instruments can then be reprogrammed to record them during the near encounter phase (NE) that follows FE.
Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.