NASA Deep Impact Comet Probe Mission Resources

NASA comet probe "Impactor" successfully collided with Comet Tempel 1 at 1:52 a.m. EDT, creating the most spectaculer 4th of July fireworks display in American history. Deep Impact is the eighth mission in NASA’s Discovery Program, it aims to learn what a comet is made of and how it is put together.
 
The Flyby spacecraft released the Impactor probe into the path of Comet Tempel 1 causing a collision at approximately 37,000 kph (23,000 mph). The "impactor", a 1-by-1-meter (39-by-39 inches) copper-fortified probe, travelled 431 million kilometers (268 million miles) to reach its destination. The one way voyage took six months.
 
Telescopes around the world along with instruments onboard  "flyby" the mothership are observing the event. 100 plus observatories are co-ordinated in the largest operation of its kind. Images recorded onboard the impactor as it hurtled towards the comet revealed huge craters. Scientists will be able to compare these craters with the artificial one to learn more about Tempel 1. On Earth the first images were seen by telescopes in Hawaii, the best visible point of observation lasting for 24 hours. A gradual brightening of the comet image was observed with activity persisting after the impact. The crater is currently estimated to be around 100 meteres in diameter.
 
 
Comet Origins and Composition
 
Comet 9P/Tempel 1 was discovered on April 3, 1867 by Ernst Wilhelm Leberecht Tempel of Marseilles France while visually searching for comets. It is 9 miles across and 83 million miles away, orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter in the asteroid belt with an orbital period of 5.5 years. The comet’s orbit will have been moved by a few hundred meters in 20 years time.
 
The material composition of the comet will tell us more about the origins of the solar system. Scientists believe comets are involved in the creation of planetary systems. Primitive materials from 4.6 billion years ago are preserved within comets including water, carbon dioxide and methane, the key components for life. The analysis of a cloud of rock and dust generated by the impact has begun. It will provide a glimpse beneath the surface of the comet, where material and debris from the solar system’s formation remain relatively unchanged. Energy lost as heat during the impact will be measured to determine the composition and strength of the comet. XMM-Newton has already detected  water on Tempel 1.
 
 
Deep Impact Resources 
 Images and animations
World News Reports 
Information about comets
 Related space exploration story
The image below shows the initial ejecta that resulted when NASA’s Deep Impact probe collided with comet Tempel 1 at 10:52 p.m. Pacific time, July 3 (1:52 a.m. Eastern time, July 4). It was taken by the spacecraft’s high-resolution camera 13 seconds after impact. The image has been digitally processed to better show the comet’s nucleus.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD

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