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DEEP IMPACT

Deep Impact Spacecraft Graphic
On July 4, 2005, the Deep Impact mission impacted the surface of comet Tempel 1. The spacecraft will study the crater formation process and examine the subsurface structure of one of the solar system's most primitive objects, a remnant from the outer solar system formation process. The Deep Impact spacecraft was launched on January 12, 2005 The mission hardware consists of a flyby spacecraft and a smart impactor. The impactor is separated from the flyby spacecraft 24 hours prior to its impact on the surface of the comet. The 360-kg copper impactor has an active guidance system that steers it to impact on the sunlit side of the comet surface at a relative velocity of 10 km/s. Prior to its collision with the comet, the impactor also provides close-up images of the comet's surface. Two visible imaging systems will record the impact events and the subsurface cometary structure while the near IR imaging spectrometer will determine the composition of the cometary material. Earth-based and Earth orbital measurements will also be conducted.

The impactor portion of the Deep Impact spacecraft successfully collided with comet Tempel 1 on July 4, 2005 and imaging cameras onboard both the impactor and the Deep Impact flyby spacecraft provided detailed images of the comet's surface. The flyby spacecraft will continue on to flyby comet Hartley 2 on November 4, 2010.

The Deep Impact mission is under the direction of the principal investigator, Dr. Michael A'Hearn of the University of Maryland. The spacecraft is being built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and managed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Look here for additional information on the Deep Impact Mission:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/deepimpact/main/

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