Volume: 01, Issue: 04
Artist depiction of the Deep Impact spacecraft.
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Comet Tempel 1.
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Other Articles in This Issue:
University Students May Help NASA Explore Mars
NASA Astrobiology Institute Offers Summer Workshops for Teachers
Chat Live With Research Scientist on May 29, 2003
 

Take Your Place Among the Stars

NASA is offering people everywhere the chance to have their name delivered to comet Tempel 1 via the Deep Impact mission. On July 4, 2005, a 370 kilogram (816 pound) projectile will collide with the comet so that a nearby spacecraft can photograph results. Scientists hope this impact will reveal some of the secrets locked within the nucleus of the comet, and you can be a part of the mission.

"This is an opportunity to become part of an extraordinary space mission," said Dr. Don Yeomans, an astronomer at JPL and a member of Deep Impact's science team. "When the craft is launched in December 2004, yours and the names of your loved ones can hitch along for the ride and be part of what may be the best space fireworks show in history."

Deep Impact's larger flyby spacecraft will carry a smaller impactor spacecraft to Tempel 1 for release into the comet's path for a planned collision. The flyby spacecraft will take pictures as the 370-kilogram (816 pound) copper-tipped impactor plunges into Tempel 1 at about 37,000 kilometers (22,990 miles) per hour. The impactor is expected to make a spectacular, football field-sized crater, seven to 15 stories deep, in the speeding comet. Carried aboard the impactor will be a standard mini-CD containing the names of comet, space and other enthusiasts from around the world.

The collision between the impactor and Tempel 1 is not forceful enough to make an appreciable change in the comet's orbital path around the Sun. The comet poses no threat to Earth.

Deep Impact was selected in 1999 as a NASA Discovery mission. The goal of the Discovery Program is to launch many smaller missions with fast development times, each for a fraction of the cost of NASA's larger missions. The main objective is to enhance our understanding of the solar system by exploring the planets, their moons, and small bodies, such as comets and asteroids.

"This campaign will allow people from around the world to become directly involved with Deep Impact and through that get them thinking about the scientific reasons for the mission," said University of Maryland astronomy professor Dr. Michael A'Hearn, Deep Impact's principal investigator. "We particularly hope to capture the interest of young students, as they will become the explorers of the next generation."

The University of Maryland in College Park is home to Dr. A'Hearn, who oversees scientific investigations. Project manager John McNamee from JPL manages and operates the Deep Impact mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation in Boulder, Colo., manages spacecraft development.

People may submit their names for this historic one-way mission now through February 2004 by visiting NASA's Deep Impact Web site at:
http://deepimpact.jpl.nasa.gov/
or
http://deepimpact.umd.edu.

    
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