Friday, June 10, 2005

Deep Impact - And Missle Defense

It seems to me that if we can successfully hit a comet 83 million miles away, then earth-bound anti-missle defense should be a piece of cake.

NASA Announces Spectacular Day of the Comet
After a voyage of 173 days and 431 million kilometers (268 million miles), NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft will get up-close and personal with comet Tempel 1 on July 4 (EDT).

The first of its kind, hyper-speed impact between space-borne iceberg and copper-fortified probe is scheduled for approximately 1:52 a.m. EDT on Independence Day (10:52 p.m. PDT on July 3). The potentially spectacular collision will be observed by the Deep Impact spacecraft, and ground and space-based observatories.
Remember the spectacular pictures from the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacting on Jupiter? We are primed to capture some from this fly by shooting, too, if anything is visible.

The Deep Impact mission is designed to offer a look under the surface of a comet, where material from the solar system's formation remains relatively unchanged.

Astronomers do not know what kind of impact they will see when the impactor hits: the crater produced on the comet could range in size from a large house to the size of a football stadium. Either way, it will not appreciably change the comet's path.

The crash is expected to eject a spray of ice and dust from the comet's surface and reveal the material beneath it on this Manhattan-sized space rock. At that point, the Deep Impact craft will have about 13 minutes to capture images and data before it weathers what astronomers expect will be a blizzard of particles thrown out of the nucleus of the comet.

There are cameras aboard the impactor and the main craft, and the crash will also be observed by the Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes in addition to telescopes on Earth.
Thanks to Free Republic for the heads up
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