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Deep Impact

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The Deep Impact mission is the eighth in the NASA Discovery mission series. The mission will flyby comet P/Tempel 1 and release a smart impactor 24 hours prior to the closest approach. The impactor will relay close up images of the comet surface before it is destroyed. The impactor will make a large crater on the surface of the comet, and we will watch the crater formation processes. Hopefully the crater will dig below the old evolved surface crust on the comet, and we will make measurements of the pristine interior.

Mission Timeline

  • Jan 2004 - Launch
  • July 4, 2005 - impact and flyby

IRTF Mission Support

  • Knowledge of the nucleus/asteroid sizes and rotation are needed to plan the photographic aspects of the mission, as well as to estimate the gravity field. The IRTF is ideally suited for obtaining nucleus parameters, such as size, albedo and rotation, which requires simultaneous thermal IR and optical measurements.
  • Excellent models of the dust environment of P/Tempel 1 will be needed to allow for proper protection of the spacecraft and to ensure adequate sampling of the dust.

Last Updated on December 16, 1999

This page has been visited times since October 1999.
Karen Meech, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii