July 05, 2005

Deep Impact

Deep Impact on the launch pad, 01.21.2005. (NASA-JPL)The Tempel 1 comet as seen from the Deep Impact flyby craft 13 seconds after colliding with the probe. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD)The Deep Impact mission was a striking success, with the probe released from the flyby craft impacting the Tempel I comet right on target. It will take a while for scientists to analyze all the data, but sizeable amounts of previously hidden comet core were thrown out into space, giving the telescopes pointed at it a great deal of information about what comets are made of. As the article above notes, the impactor was even able to take an image of the surface of the comet from 30 km away, giving NASA scientists a look at surface features only 13 feet across.

NASA is currently looking at whether or not the Deep Impact flyby vehicle is stable enough for a second mission. If it didn't sustain too much damage from flying debris after the impactor's collision with Tempel I, before July 24 it can be sent on a new, three and a half year mission to the comet Boethin.

This NASA-JPL press release describes the course of the Tempel 1 mission in more detail.

Posted by natasha at July 5, 2005 01:11 PM | Science | Technorati links |

Great, so we just declared pre-emtive interstellar space war by bombing an innocent comet that had no malice for the Earth!! Did anyone think to ask if the Comet had a protection pact with the Antarians??

Posted by: ascap_scab at July 7, 2005 04:48 PM