Did you know that the spacecraft Deep Impact was launched in 2005? Deep Impact’s mission was to study comets: what they were made of and how they form. After launch, the spacecraft traveled for 174 days to reach the comet Tempel 1. A part called the ‘impactor’ separated and crashed into the surface of the comet. Scientific instruments on Deep Impact, the Hubble Telescope, and other observatories on Earth collected data from the impact. Scientists discovered that the comet had more dust and less ice than they expected and that it may have formed between Neptune and Uranus.
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Deep Impact launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The impactor left a crater about 100 meters wide and 30 meters deep. The comet lost an estimated 5 million kilograms of water and 10-25 million kilograms of dust.
As part of the mission, there was a promotional campaign “Send Your Name To A Comet”. Between May 2003 and January 2004 625,000 visitors to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory website added their names to a list that would be burnt on to a mini CD. The CD was attached to the impactor.
After the conclusion of the Deep Impact mission, Deep Impact was ‘put in hiberation’. The extended mission of Deep Impact has been designated as EPOXI (Extrasolar Planet Observation and Deep Impact Extended Investigation) and has tried to visit other comets and asteroids.
For more information about the Deep Impact mission, click here.