Deep Impact spacecraft is launched January 12, 2005
NASA released a press release on January 12, 2005 stating,
“Deep Impact Launched and Flying Towards Date with a Comet
NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft began its 431 million kilometer (268 million mile) journey to Comet Tempel 1 today at 1:47:08 p.m. EST. ”
Comet Tempel 1 Composite Map
Arrows a and b point to large, smooth regions. The impact site is indicated by the third large arrow. Small grouped arrows highlight a scarp (a cliff or steep slope along the edge of a plateau) that is bright due to illumination angle. They show a smooth area to be elevated above the extremely rough terrain. The white scale bar in the lower right represents 1 km across the surface of the comet nucleus. The two directional arrows (vectors) in the upper right point to the Sun and Celestial North.
Photo Credit: NASA/UM M. F. A’Hearn et al., Science 310, 258 (2005); published online 8 September 2005 (10.1126/science.1118923). Reprinted with permission from AAAS.
Additional excerpts from NASA press release:
“Deep Impact is comprised of two parts, a “fly-by” spacecraft and a smaller “impactor.” The impactor will be released into the comet’s path for a planned collision on July 4. The crater produced by the impactor is expected to be up to football field sized and two to 14 stories deep. Ice and dust debris will be ejected from the crater, revealing the material beneath.
The fly-by spacecraft will observe the effects of the collision. NASA’s Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes, and others on Earth, will also observe the collision.
Comets are time capsules that hold clues about the formation and evolution of the Solar System. They are composed of ice, gas and dust, primitive debris from the Solar System’s distant and coldest regions that formed 4.5 billion years ago. ”
Deep Impact NASA web site