NASA Makes A Deep Impact On Comet

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The comet mission has been a success, as the Deep Impact probe collided with its target as scheduled.

NASA has released images and some more details about the early morning July 4th scheduled collision of its Deep Impact probe into comet Tempel 1. The probe, released from the Deep Impact spacecraft, made its 23,000 miles per hour impact within about 30 seconds of its predicted 1:52 am EDT time.

The wide crater made by the collision opened its interior to observation and analysis by the Deep Impact flyby craft, as well as telescopes on Earth and in space. The information gleaned by revealing the mysteries of the comet’s composition may lead to discoveries about our own planet.

“We’re hoping to gain some insight to answer the question of who we are and where we come from,” Shadan Ardalan, a mission engineer, said in a phone interview from Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “We believe that billions of years ago as planets were forming, comets bombarded our planet, bringing in materials that were the building blocks for life.”

Already, images of the comet post-collision have been received on Earth. They show a bright flash of material ejected from the comet when the copper-fortified probe hit it.

The Deep Impact mission had been proposed in past years, and was rejected in one form in 1996 before being approved in 1999. The spacecraft launched in January 2005 and covered about 83 million miles to reach the comet.

Tempel 1 travels an orbit around our sun about every five and a half years, floating between Mars and Jupiter. Ernst Tempel discovered several objects in space in his lifetime, and found the Tempel 1 comet in 1867.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

NASA Makes A Deep Impact On Comet
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