Skip to comments.'Deep Impact' Probe to Try to Puncture a Comet
Posted on 01/09/2005 8:03:12 PM PST by crushelits
When it comes to space exploration, where scientists often measure their needs in milli-this and micro-that, Deep Impact, as its name suggests, has all the subtlety of a punch in the mouth.
Barring unforeseen delays, NASA will launch on Wednesday a 1,325-pound spacecraft on a one-way trip to the comet Tempel 1. On July 3, the spacecraft will jettison an 820-pound copper projectile in the comet's path and get out of the way as comet and projectile meet at a relative speed of 23,000 mph.
This, perhaps not surprisingly, will happen on July 4, and if you are somewhere in the Pacific between Australia and the United States, you might be able to see it in the constellation Virgo, within a few degrees of Spica, for this ordinarily dreary and invisible-to-the-naked-eye comet is going to light up like a Roman candle.
During a recent news conference to introduce Deep Impact, Project Manager Rick Grammier predicted "great fireworks," and telescopes on the spacecraft, in space (Hubble, Spitzer, Chandra) and on the ground are going to be watching closely and recording every second of the event and its aftermath.
Deep Impact is the first human-made probe designed to hit a comet and penetrate to its nucleus. The size of the crater and the material that spews from it will give scientists their best-ever information about what comets are made of and how they formed.
"The biggest uncertainty is what [will happen] at the time of impact," said University of Maryland astronomer Michael A'Hearn, the mission's lead scientist. "It is this uncertainty that makes it important to do this conceptually simple experiment."
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(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
I'd just load Slick up with a few hundred tablets of Viagra, three gallons of H2O, and put him on the nose of a Titan.
why copper? didn't the Lone Ranger do it with silver? (could site other examples, other heroes, other exotic metals).
Hmmmm...I hope it doesn't turn into one of those "It seemed like a good idea at the time moments". :)
Yeah, this one is scarin the hell out of me.
Im thinking how easy it will be for this 'probe' to crash into the surface and split this 'dirty snowball' in half. Sending it careening wildly off course and triggering a devastating earth transition. Literally an Extinction Level Event.
I hope it works, and one of the nasa crew is the first
"it blowed up real good!"
Copper has a well understood emission spectra. They can filter out the copper signal from the rest of the light and determine the comet's composition.
It's also a lot cheaper that silver.
(I like the way you think, though)...
"The biggest uncertainty is what [will happen] at the time of impact,"
What if the impact changes the course of the comet and it heads for Earth? Just a thought.
...for the green flash?
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