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Frontiers of Astronomy Community Lecture
Deep Impact: What We've Learned So Far
"Deep Impact: What We've Learned so Far," the latest in the series of Frontiers of Astronomy Community Lectures sponsored by the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, will take place at 7 p.m., on Thursday, September 22, at the School of Architecture Auditorium (Room 205), on the UH Manoa campus. Dr. Karen Meech, Institute for Astronomy planetary scientist and a co-investigator of the NASA Deep Impact mission, will present the latest results from this exciting comet mission and explain what the discoveries mean. The talk is free and open to the public. On-campus parking is available for $3.00.
NASA's spectacularly successful Deep Impact mission resulted in a bull's-eye hit on the comet 9P/Tempel 1 in July. The impact of the spacecraft on the comet's nucleus excavated a football field-sized crater. The project was designed to enable scientists to observe and analyze the spectra of solar system material left over from the first 100 million years of our solar system's existence. Its goal was to learn more about the process of planet formation in our solar system.
Dr. Meech coordinated all of the Earth-based observations related to the impact. Worldwide there were 130 registered observers at 70 major observatories who were able to communicate with each other in real time during the impact event. She and her team also participated in the crucial data gathering from 1999 up to the time of encounter to obtain mission-critical information about the target nucleus, including size, rotation rate and the development of a dust and gas coma.
Dr. Meech joined the Institute for Astronomy after receiving her PhD in planetary science from MIT in 1987. She specializes in research on comets and serves as the principal investigator for the interdisciplinary NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, in addition to being a co-investigator for the Deep Impact mission. Dr. Meech also developed and ran the National Science Foundation-funded TOPS (Towards Other Planetary Systems) program, the highly successful summer intensive education workshop for teachers of science and mathematics.