Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Plan Ahead for Deep Impact. (in the News & Calendar)

Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Plan Ahead for Deep Impact. (in the News & Calendar)

Article excerpt

What's deep inside a comet? Comets are time capsules that hold clues about the formation and evolution of the solar system. They are composed of ice, gas, and dust, which is the primitive debris from the solar system's earliest and coldest formation period--4.5 billion years ago. Deep Impact, a NASA Discovery Mission, will be the first space mission to probe beneath the surface of a comet and reveal the secrets of its interior.

On July 4, 2005, the Deep Impact spacecraft will arrive at Comet Tempel 1 and impact it with a 350-kg (770-lbs.) mass, producing a football field-sized crater, seven stories deep. Ice and dust debris will be ejected from the crater revealing the fresh material beneath. Sunlight reflecting off the ejected material will provide a dramatic brightening that will fade slowly as the debris dissipates into space or falls back onto the comet. Spacecraft cameras will send images back to Earth of the approach, the impact, and its aftermath. The collision between the comet and the impactor will also be observable from certain locations on Earth and in some cases with smaller telescopes. …

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