Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Deep Impact space probe

Deep Impact is a NASA space probe launched on January 12, 2005. It was designed to study the composition of the comet interior of 9P/Tempel.

This is an artist's rendition of the flyby spacecraft releasing the impactor, 24 hours before the impact event. Pictured from left to right are comet Tempel 1, the impactor, and the flyby spacecraft. The impactor is a 370-kilogram mass with an onboard guidance system. The flyby spacecraft includes a solar panel (right), a high-gain antenna (top), a debris shield (left, background), and science instruments for high and medium resolution imaging, infrared spectroscopy, and optical navigation (yellow box and cylinder, lower left). The fly spacecraft is about 3.2 meters long, 1.7 meters wide, and 2.3 meters high. The launch payload has a mass of 1020 kilograms. Credit: NASA / JPL

Comets are time capsules that hold clues about the formation and evolution of the solar system. They are composed of ice, gas and dust, primitive debris from the solar system's distant and coldest regions that formed 4.5 billion years ago. Deep Impact, a NASA Discovery Mission, is the first space mission to probe beneath the surface of a comet and reveal the secrets of its interior.

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This movie taken by Deep Impact's flyby spacecraft shows the flash that occurred when comet Tempel 1 ran over the spacecraft's probe. It was taken by the flyby craft's high-resolution camera over a period of about 40 seconds. The image has been digitally processed to enhance the view of the comet's nucleus. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UMD

(converted to GIF format) (318 × 239 pixels, file size: 222 KB, MIME type: image/gif, looped, 8 frames, 8.0s)


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