Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA's Deep Impact Spacecraft Spots Its Quarry

Date:
May 2, 2005
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
Sixty-nine days before it gets up-close-and-personal with a comet, NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft successfully photographed its quarry, comet Tempel 1, from a distance of 64 million kilometers (39.7 million miles).

Deep Impact's first view of comet Tempel 1.
Credit: Image credit: NASA/JPL/UMD

Sixty-nine days before it gets up-close-and-personal with a comet, NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft successfully photographed its quarry, comet Tempel 1, from a distance of 64 million kilometers (39.7 million miles).

The image, the first of many comet portraits it will take over the next 10 weeks, will aid Deep Impact's navigators, engineers and scientists as they plot their final trajectory toward an Independence Day encounter. "It is great to get a first glimpse at the comet from our spacecraft," said Deep Impact Principal Investigator Dr. Michael A'Hearn of the University of Maryland, College Park, Md. "With daily observations beginning in May, Tempel 1 will become noticeably more impressive as we continue to close the gap between spacecraft and comet. What is now little more than a few pixels across will evolve by July 4 into the best, most detailed images of a comet ever taken."

The ball of dirty ice and rock was detected on April 25 by Deep Impact's medium resolution instrument on the very first attempt. While making the detection, the spacecraft's camera saw stars as dim as 11th visual magnitude, more than 100 times dimmer than a human can see on a clear night.

"This is the first of literally thousands of images we will take of Tempel 1 for both science and navigational purposes," said Deputy Program Manager Keyur Patel at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Our goal is to impact a one-meter long (39-inch) spacecraft into about a 6.5-kilometer wide (4-mile) comet that is bearing down on it at 10.2 kilometers per second (6.3 miles per second), while both are 133.6 million kilometers (83 million miles) away from Earth. By finding the comet as early and as far away as we did is a definite aid to our navigation."

To view the comet image on the Internet, visit http://www.nasa.gov/deepimpact or http://deepimpact.jpl.nasa.gov/.

Deep Impact is comprised of two parts, a "flyby" spacecraft and a smaller "impactor." The impactor will be released into the comet's path for a planned high-speed collision on July 4. The crater produced by the impact could range in size from the width of a large house up to the size of a football stadium and from 2 to 14 stories deep. Ice and dust debris will be ejected from the crater, revealing the material beneath.

The Deep Impact spacecraft has four data collectors to observe the effects of the collision - a camera and infrared spectrometer comprise the high resolution instrument, a medium resolution instrument, and a duplicate of that camera on the impactor (called the impactor targeting sensor) that will record the vehicle's final moments before it is run over by comet Tempel 1 at a speed of about 37,000 kilometers per hour (23,000 miles per hour).

The overall Deep Impact mission management for this Discovery class program is conducted by the University of Maryland. Deep Impact project management is handled by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The spacecraft was built for NASA by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation, Boulder, Colo.

For more information about Deep Impact on the Internet, visit http://deepimpact.jpl.nasa.gov/.

For more information about NASA on the Internet, visit: http://www.nasa.gov.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA's Deep Impact Spacecraft Spots Its Quarry." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050502093651.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2005, May 2). NASA's Deep Impact Spacecraft Spots Its Quarry. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050502093651.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA's Deep Impact Spacecraft Spots Its Quarry." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050502093651.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Study Says The Moon Was Deformed Early In Its History

New Study Says The Moon Was Deformed Early In Its History

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Scientists say when the moon was young, it was deformed by the Earth's gravitational pull, which gave it a lemon-like shape. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

AFP (July 30, 2014) The European Space Agency's fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5) is takes off to the International Space Station on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

AP (July 30, 2014) Arianespace launched a rocket Tuesday from French Guiana carrying a robotic cargo ship to deliver provisions to the International Space Station. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins