Skip to comments.'Deep Impact' Spacecraft to Travel to Comet
Posted on 11/26/2004 12:01:30 AM PST by ChristianDefender
BOULDER, Colo. Where the movie "Deep Impact" depicted a comet hurtling to Earth, a real-world namesake is set to go the opposite direction to eventually slam into a comet.
Deep Impact as the spacecraft is called will travel six months to reach a comet, named Comet Temple 1. It will then release an 825-pound impactor to search out and collide with the 5-mile long, 2-mile wide comet.
The minds at Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation (search) have been working on the spacecraft since 1996.
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
They should have named the satellite Tea Leoni, it would have been a sure bomb.
I would suggest "To Osama With Love"....
Suitable for a probe sent to Uranus.
Well, I dind't mean YOUR . . . nevermind.
825 pounds? Why is it so heavy? Is this an attempt to blow the thing up or something?
Is there enough room for Michael Moore on that thing?
...5-mile long, 2-mile wide comet.
i guess so..
Forty years from now I can predict that there will be people starving, have no funds, and dying. And it didn't cost billions either.
So what you're a muslim?
So why mention it, troll?
Good! Take the fight to them! If we hit them out there, they won't be able to hit us here!
Outer space? Comets? I thought "Deep Impact" was the message voters made towards Democrats on Nov. 2nd.
So, they are finally going to launch this dog. The hammer theory of scientific research.
What a smashing article! :^)
Excerpt from The Dallas Morning News:
NASA spacecraft expected to collide with comet on July 4
11:01 PM CST on Saturday, December 18, 2004
In mid-January, NASA plans to launch its Deep Impact spacecraft from Florida. If all goes as planned, on the Fourth of July it will run head-on into a comet 83 million miles from Earth on purpose.
"We expect to provide some great fireworks," said Richard Grammier, project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
The celestial crackup could dig a crater big enough to swallow Texas Stadium. Scientists say it will provide their first-ever glimpse inside the heart of a comet, those icy visitors from the edge of the solar system.
Because comets spend most of their time in the deep freeze of outer space, only occasionally swinging past the sun in a fiery blaze, their interiors act as time capsules preserving chemical records of the solar system's early days.
"These are literally the leftover building blocks of our solar system," said Thomas Morgan, Deep Impact program scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
By blasting a hole into Comet Tempel 1, scientists hope to scrutinize the exposed interior of a typical comet.
The $330 million mission actually packs two spacecraft in one: the washing-machine-sized, copper-plated "impactor" and the larger mothership that will watch the collision from a distance. Both carry cameras to capture the most close-up photos of a comet ever taken.
Deep Impact got its name long before the movie of the same name, and scientists don't expect any Hollywood overtones. Smashing into the spacecraft will alter the comet's orbit imperceptibly, but Tempel 1 will never hit Earth as the rogue comet threatened in the movie, said the mission's principal investigator, Michael A'Hearn of the University of Maryland.
Deep Impact's journey is scheduled to begin just after noon on Jan. 12, when it should soar into space from Cape Canaveral aboard a Delta rocket. If weather or other problems arise, mission controllers have until Jan. 28 to get it off the ground. (After that, Tempel 1 will move out of range, and NASA would have to pick another comet for the mission.)
Tempel 1 is the target precisely because it is so ordinary, said Dr. A'Hearn.
Its heart, or nucleus, is a chunk of ice and rock several miles across. When it comes closer to the sun every six years, the sun's warmth begins to vaporize the ice, causing the comet to spray a dramatic tail of gas and dust. The tails make comets some of the most dramatic celestial sights.
Tempel 1 is neither as well known as Halley's comet nor as bright as Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. But it's in the right place at the right time for Deep Impact to run into it, Dr. A'Hearn said at a NASA news briefing.
After traveling nearly 270 million miles through space, Deep Impact's mothership will release the smaller craft, letting it drift just ahead of the comet. Tempel 1 will then barrel into the impactor at 23,000 miles per hour, marking the first time a spacecraft has ever touched the surface of a comet.
The crash could send a cone of pulverized rock and ice spraying outward, then falling back to the comet's surface. Or it could create long cracks throughout the nucleus. Or it might just compress the surface material, forming a small dent.
But Dr. A'Hearn is hoping for a full-fledged crater that could engulf a football field.
Meanwhile, the mothership will fly alongside, taking pictures with the most powerful telescope ever launched into deep space. It will radio data back to Earth, where scientists will be waiting to see what happened.
The comet might brighten momentarily at the time of impact, a change that could be visible even to amateur astronomers. Telescopes around the world, including some at McDonald Observatory in West Texas, will also be watching the collision and its aftermath.
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