NASA Preparing Deep Impact Launch
With a scheduled launch time for today at 1:47 PM EST, NASA is preparing to send a multimillion-dollar satellite into the heart of a comet.
The satellite, named Deep Impact, is on a mission to intercept the Tempel 1 comet. Once the 268 million mile journey is complete, Deep Impact will then collide with celestial body, punching a hole or making a crater that Deep Impact will observe. The goal is for NASA to get an idea of how the inner workings of a comet are performed.
USAToday reports that the mission is going to cost NASA around $330 million. The satellite is expected to rendezvous with Tempel 1 in six months. Once arriving, the speed of the impact (in excess of 20000 mph) will cause the necessary “damage” to the comet for Deep Impact to observe; provided the satellite collides with the side of Tempel 1 that faces the Sun.
In order to photograph the area of impact, sunlight is required. The day NASA has circled for coming collision is July 4, 2005. If the collision happens on that date, expect NASA to provide their own brand of fireworks to the Independence Day celebrations
Read more at NASA’s official Deep Impact home page.