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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jul 10, 2005 18:45:28 GMT -6
Hit on comet leaves 'powder': NASA
The Tempel 1 comet smacked by a projectile from the Deep Impact probe was covered with powder on its surface, NASA said today, explaining the cloud of matter left by Monday's carefully planned impact.
"Data from Deep Impact's instruments indicate an immense cloud of fine powdery material was released when the probe slammed into the nucleus of comet Tempel 1 at about 10 kilometres per second," said a statement from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at Pasadena, near Los Angeles.
"The major surprise was the opacity of the plume the impactor created and the light it gave off," said Deep Impact chief investigator Michael A'Hearn, of the University of Maryland.
"The cloud indicated the comet is covered in the powdery stuff. The Deep Impact science team continues to wade through gigabytes of data collected during the July 4 encounter with the comet measuring five kilometres wide by 11 kilometres long."
The information also includes about 4500 images taken when the impact occurred, NASA said.
The washing machine-sized projectile crashed head-on into the Tempel 1 comet at 3.52pm (AEST) on Monday, with the collision photographed by a separate fly-by spacecraft.
Within minutes of the crash, scientists were able to pore over a wealth of high-resolution images showing a bright flash of light as the projectile collided with the potato-shaped comet that was discovered in 1867. ----- Poof!
Chicago Astronomer Joe Founder, Administrator and Chief Astronomer
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