LAST TWO WEEKS TO MAKE A "DEEP IMPACT"
ON A COMET
.....T-minus two weeks
and counting till NASA closes their passenger list for a one-way trip
to comet Tempel 1. On January 31 NASA's Deep Impact mission will end
its campaign to launch the names of space enthusiasts who want to make
a deep impact on a comet.
.....On July 4, 2005, the Deep Impact spacecraft
will impact a copper projectile about the size of a garbage can into
the surface of a frozen ball of ice and rock, comet Temple 1, creating
a crater about the size of a football stadium. A CD containing the names
of those who signed on board for this one- way trip to a celestial snowball
will be literally obliterated along with the 370-kilogram (816 pound)
.....When the impactor reaches out and
touches Temple 1 at about 37,000 kilometers (22,990 miles) per hour,
Deep Impact's flyby spacecraft will collect pictures and data. The flyby
spacecraft will send its data back to Earth in near real time through
the antennas of the Deep Space Network. Simultaneously, professional
and amateur astronomers on Earth will observe the ejecta flying from
the comet's newly formed crater adding to the data and images collected
by the Deep Impact spacecraft and other space telescopes.
....."This is an opportunity to become
part of an extraordinary space mission," said Dr. Don Yeomans,
an astronomer at JPL and a member of the Deep Impact science team. "When
the craft is launched in December 2004, yours and the names of your
loved- ones can hitch along for the ride and be part of what may be
the best space fireworks show in history."
.....Deep Impact is the first deep-space
mission that will really reach out and touch a comet. Mission scientists
are confident such an intimate glimpse beneath the surface of a comet,
where material and debris from the formation of the solar system remain
relatively unchanged, will answer basic questions about the formation
of the solar system as well as getting a better look at the nature and
composition of these celestial wanderers.
....."This campaign will allow people
from around the world to become directly involved with the Deep Impact
mission and through that, get them thinking about the scientific reasons
for the mission," said University of Maryland astronomy professor,
Dr. Michael A'Hearn, Deep Impact's principal investigator. "We
particularly hope to capture the interest of young students, as they
will become the explorers of the next generation."
.....People may submit their names for
this historic one-way mission by visiting NASA's Deep Impact Web site
through January 31 at: http://deepimpact.jpl.nasa.gov/
.....The University of Maryland in College
Park is home to A'Hearn, who oversees the scientific investigations.
Project manager, Rick Grammier, from JPL, manages and operates the Deep
Impact mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington. JPL is
managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation in Boulder, Colo. manages
the spacecraft development.
.....Deep Impact was selected in 1999 as
a NASA Discovery mission. The goal of the Discovery Program is to launch
smaller, low cost capped missions studying new science questions. The
main objective is to enhance understanding of the solar system by exploring
the planets, their moons, and small bodies, such as comets and asteroids.
.....Information about the Deep Impact
mission is available on the Internet at: http://deepimpact.jpl.nasa.gov/