- The Chicago Astronomer -
Copyright 2004-2014 All rights reserved by Joseph Guzman Administrator/Founder/Chief Astronomer.
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Just how big a crater will Deep Impact make on Tempel-1? Will the impactor sink right in to the fluffy comet and leave hardly any mark, or will it slam into a solid surface and dig out a classical crater? Scientists can only guess, because they aren’t sure how the comet is put together. The Planetary Society is inviting everybody around the world to make an educated guess as to how big that crater will actually be. If your guess is close enough, you could win a custom-made plaque from Ball Aerospace, who built the Deep Impact Spacecraft. The plaque will be made of the same kind of copper material that makes up the heavy mass of the Impactor, laser-engraved with the mission logo.
I'm not guessing how big the crater will be, but there's another aspect that will affect how large it gets. Heat. The kinetic energy of the 100 kg copper probe impacting at 16,000 KPH will raise the temperare of the volitles just a few Kelvin which will eject massive clouds of gas. The density of the surface, its distance in temperature from its boiling point, and the chemical composition (affects the degrees per gram needed for heat of fusion) will all contribute to the size of the crater. Since we don't know all these factors, we cannot know in advance how large the crater will be. Can't even give a reasonably close guess.
If the universe is a ball the size of America, then the solar system is almost as large as the smallest cell in the human body.