Bullet smashes the gut of Temple 1... Jul 4, 2005 0:45:47 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jul 4, 2005 0:45:47 GMT -6
Deep Impact spacecraft's probe collides with comet
11:16 p.m. July 3, 2005
People gather to watch, on a large screen, the comet Tempel 1 collide with a NASA space probe in Honolulu, Sunday, July 3, 2005. The probe was bearing down on its comet target Sunday in a suicide mission scientists hoped would provide new insight into the origins of the solar system.
PASADENA – A space probe hit its comet target late Sunday in a NASA-directed, Hollywood-style mission that scientists hope will reveal clues to how the solar system formed.
It marked the first time a spacecraft touched the surface of a comet, igniting a dazzling Independence Day weekend fireworks display in space.
The successful strike 83 million miles away from Earth occurred just before 11 p.m. PDT, according to mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, which is managing the $333 million mission.
Scientists at mission control erupted in applause and gave each other hugs as news of the impact spread.
An image by the mothership showed a bright spot in the lower section of the comet where the collision occured that hurled a cloud of debris into space. When the dust settles, scientists hope to peek inside the comet's frozen core – a composite of ice and rock left over from the early solar system.
"We hit it just exactly where we wanted to," said co-investigator Don Yeomans.
Scientists had compared the suicide journey to standing in the middle of the road and being hit by a semi-truck roaring at 23,000 mph. They expect the crater will be anywhere from the size of a large house to a football stadium and between two and 14 stories deep.
A day earlier, the Deep Impact spacecraft successfully released its barrel-sized "impactor" probe on a high-speed collision course with Tempel 1 – a pickle-shaped comet half the size of Manhattan.
Very good NASA...direct hit and I anticipate the images! Very cool!... ;D