RSSAll Entries Tagged With: "fly-by"

Comet rendezvous “100% successful”

Four different Stardust views of Tempel 1

Four different views of comet Tempel 1 as seen by NASA's Stardust spacecraft as it flew by on Feb. 14, 2011. The images progress in time beginning at upper left, moving to upper right, then proceeding from lower left to lower right. The upper right and lower left images are the best ones, taken at 3 seconds before, and 3 seconds after, the closest approach.

NASA’S STARDUST SPACECRAFT returned new images of a comet showing a scar resulting from the 2005 Deep Impact mission. The images also showed that the comet has a fragile and weak core or nucleus.

The spacecraft made its closest approach to comet Tempel 1 on Tuesday, February 15 at 3:40pm Sydney time (Monday, Feb. 14 at 8:40pm US PST or 11:40pm US EST) at a distance of approximately 178 kilometres (111 miles).

Stardust took 72 high-resolution images of the comet. It also accumulated 468 kilobytes of data about the dust in its coma, the cloud that is a comet’s atmosphere.

The craft is on its second mission of exploration called Stardust-NExT, having completed its prime mission collecting cometary particles and returning them to Earth in 2006.

The Stardust-NExT mission met its goals, which included observing surface features that changed in areas previously seen during the 2005 Deep Impact mission; imaging new terrain; and viewing the crater generated when the 2005 mission propelled an impactor at the comet.

“This mission is 100 percent successful,” said Joe Veverka, Stardust-NExT principal investigator of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. “We saw a lot of new things that we didn’t expect, and we’ll be working hard to figure out what Tempel 1 is trying to tell us.”

Location of the impact by the impactor from the Deep Impact

Close up of the location hit by the impactor from the Deep Impact spacecraft back in 2005.

Before-and-after comparison of part of Tempel 1

This pair of images shows the before-and-after comparison of the part of comet Tempel 1 that was hit by the impactor from NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft back in 2005.

Like flying through WWII flak

Several of the images provide tantalising clues to the result of the Deep Impact mission’s collision with Tempel 1.

“We see a crater with a small mound in the centre, and it appears that some of the ejecta went up and came right back down,” said Pete Schultz of Brown University. “This tells us this cometary nucleus is fragile and weak based on how subdued the crater is we see today.”

Engineering telemetry downlinked after closest approach indicates the spacecraft flew through waves of disintegrating cometary particles, including a dozen impacts that penetrated more than one layer of its protective shielding.

“The data indicate Stardust went through something similar to a B-17 bomber flying through flak in World War II,” said Don Brownlee, Stardust-NExT co-investigator from the University of Washington in Seattle. “Instead of having a little stream of uniform particles coming out, they apparently came out in chunks and crumbled.”

Changes in the surface of Tempel 1

This image layout depicts changes in the surface of comet Tempel 1, observed first by NASA's Deep Impact Mission in 2005 (top) and again by NASA's Stardust-NExT mission on February 14, 2011 (bottom).

Mission almost over

While the Valentine’s Day night encounter of Tempel 1 is complete, the spacecraft will continue to look at its latest cometary obsession from afar.

“This spacecraft has logged over 3.5 billion miles [5.6 billion kilometres] since launch, and while its last close encounter is complete, its mission of discovery is not,” said Tim Larson, Stardust-NExT project manager at JPL. “We’ll continue imaging the comet as long as the science team can gain useful information, and then Stardust will get its well-deserved rest.”

Stardust-NExT is a low-cost mission that is expanding the investigation of comet Tempel 1 initiated by the Deep Impact spacecraft. The mission is managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft and manages day-to-day mission operations.

Adapted from information issued by NASA JPL. Images courtesy NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Maryland / Cornell.

Get SpaceInfo.com.au daily updates by RSS or email! Click the RSS Feed link at the top right-hand corner of this page, and then save the RSS Feed page to your bookmarks. Or, enter your email address (privacy assured) and we’ll send you daily updates. Or follow us on Twitter, @spaceinfo_oz

Comet fly-by success!

Comet Tempel 1

NASA's Stardust-NExT mission took this image of comet Tempel 1 at 8:36pm US PST (11:36pm US EST) on Feb 14, 2011, from a distance of approximately 2.20 thousand kilometres.

MISSION CONTROLLERS at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory watched as data downlinked from the Stardust spacecraft indicated it completed its closest approach with comet Tempel 1.

Preliminary data transmitted from the spacecraft indicated the time of closest approach was about 3:39pm Tuesday, Sydney time (Monday, 8:39pm US PST or 11:39pm US EST), at a distance of 181 kilometres from Tempel 1.

An hour after closest approach, the spacecraft turned to point its large, high-gain antenna at Earth to start sending back the 72 images taken during the fly-by.

Soon after the first images began arriving, it became apparent that an unknown glitch had changed the order in which they were being sent.

Mission controllers had commanded the spacecraft to send the middle five images first. These are the ones that were taken at the time of closest approach, when the comet would have filled the frame and lots of detail would be seen.

Instead, Stardust-NExT began sending the images in the order they were taken, starting with distant shots showing a small comet nucleus surrounded by the black of space.

The first six of those images were released shortly after they arrived from the spacecraft. They all look pretty much the same, so we’re showing only two of them with this story.

Comet Tempel 1

NASA's Stardust-NExT mission took this image of comet Tempel 1 at 8:35pm US PST (11:35pm US EST) on Feb 14, 2011, from a distance of approximately 2.28 thousand kilometres.

A press conference originally scheduled for 5:00am Sydney time Wednesday (Tuesday, 10:00am US PST or 1:00pm US EST) has been rescheduled for 8:00am Sydney time (Tuesday, 4:00m US EST). It is expected that the good images will be released during that conference.

You can watch the press conference live on NASA TV.

Adapted from information issued by NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell.

Get SpaceInfo.com.au daily updates by RSS or email! Click the RSS Feed link at the top right-hand corner of this page, and then save the RSS Feed page to your bookmarks. Or, enter your email address (privacy assured) and we’ll send you daily updates. Or follow us on Twitter, @spaceinfo_oz

Comet encounter today

Artist's concept of NASA's Stardust-NExT mission

Artist's concept of NASA's Stardust-NExT mission approaching comet Tempel 1.

AS OF TODAY, February 15 at 4:21am Sydney time (Feb 14, at 9:21am US PST or 12:21pm US EST), NASA’s Stardust-NExT mission spacecraft was within 402,336 kilometres of its quarry, comet Tempel 1, which it will fly by today.

The spacecraft is cutting the distance with the comet at a rate of about 10.9 kilometres per second (38,000 kph).

The flyby of Tempel 1 will give scientists an opportunity to look for changes on the comet’s surface since it was visited by NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft in July 2005. Since then, Tempel 1 has completed one orbit of the Sun, and scientists are looking forward to discovering any differences in the comet.

The closest approach is expected tonight at approximately 3:40pm Sydney time (8:40pm US PST or 11:40pm US EST).

A brief encounter

During the encounter phase, the spacecraft will carry out many important milestones in short order and automatically, as the spacecraft is too far away to receive timely updates from Earth.

These milestones include turning the spacecraft to point its protective shields between it and the anticipated direction from which cometary particles would approach.

Another milestone will occur at about four minutes to closest approach, when the spacecraft will begin science imaging of the comet’s nucleus.

Composite image of comet Tempel 1

This composite image was taken by NASA's Stardust spacecraft 42 hours before its encounter with comet Tempel 1. It is the last image by the spacecraft's navigation camera before its encounter with the comet. The image is a composite of four, five-second exposures.

The nominal imaging sequence will run for about eight minutes. The spacecraft’s onboard memory is limited to 72 high-resolution images, so the imaging will be most closely spaced around the time of closest approach for best-resolution coverage of Tempel 1’s nucleus.

At the time of closest encounter, the spacecraft is expected to be approximately 200 kilometres from the comet’s nucleus.

The mission team expects to begin receiving images on the ground starting at around 7pm Sydney time (midnight US PST or 3:00am on Feb. 15 US EST). Transmission of each image will take about 15 minutes.

It will take about 10 hours to complete the transmission of all images and science data aboard the spacecraft.

Watch the live coverage

Live coverage on NASA TV and via the Internet begins at 3:30pm Sydney time (Feb. 14 at 8:30pm US PST or 11:30pm US EST) from mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Coverage also will include segments from the Lockheed Martin Space System’s mission support area in Denver.

For NASA TV streaming video, scheduling and downlink information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

The live coverage and news conference will also be carried on one of JPL’s Ustream channels. During events, viewers can take part in a real-time chat and submit questions to the Stardust-NExT team at: http://www.ustream.tv/user/NASAJPL2

During its 12 years in space, Stardust became the first spacecraft to collect samples of a comet (Wild 2 in 2004), which were delivered to Earth in 2006 for study.

The Stardust-NExT mission is managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft and manages day-to-day mission operations.

Adapted from information issued by NASA / JPL. Images courtesy NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell / LMSS.

Get SpaceInfo.com.au daily updates by RSS or email! Click the RSS Feed link at the top right-hand corner of this page, and then save the RSS Feed page to your bookmarks. Or, enter your email address (privacy assured) and we’ll send you daily updates. Or follow us on Twitter, @spaceinfo_oz

Recycled spacecraft to revisit comet

An artist's impression of Stardust NExT approaching comet Tempel 1.

The Stardust NExT spacecraft will fly past comet Tempel 1 on February 15 (Sydney time) at a distance of only 200 kilometres.

NASA’S STARDUST NEXT SPACECRAFT is nearing a celestial date with comet Tempel 1 at approximately 3:37pm on February 15, Sydney time (11:37pm US EST on Feb 14). The mission will enable scientists for the first time to look for changes on a comet’s surface that occurred following an orbit around the Sun.

The Stardust-NExT, or New Exploration of Tempel, spacecraft will take high-resolution images during the encounter, and attempt to measure the composition, distribution, and flux of dust emitted into the coma…the cloud of material surrounding the comet’s core.

Data from the mission will provide important new information on how certain types of comets evolved and formed.

The mission will expand the investigation of the comet initiated by NASA’s Deep Impact mission. In July 2005, the Deep Impact spacecraft sent an impactor into the surface of Tempel 1 to study its composition. The Stardust spacecraft may capture an image of the crater formed by the impactor. This would be a bonus to the huge amount of data that mission scientists expect to obtain.

Here’s a short video of the result of Deep Impact’s impactor hitting Tempel 1:

“Every day we are getting closer and closer and more and more excited about answering some fundamental questions about comets,” said Joe Veverka, Stardust-NExT principal investigator at Cornell University.

“Going back for another look at Tempel 1 will provide new insights on how comets work and how they were put together four-and-a-half billion years ago.”

Close encounter of the comet kind

At approximately 336 million kilometres away from Earth, Stardust-NExT will be almost on the exact opposite side of the Solar System at the time of the encounter. (As of January 20, the spacecraft was approximately 24.6 million kilometres away from its encounter.) During the flyby, the spacecraft will take 72 images and store them in an onboard computer.

Initial raw images from the flyby will be sent to Earth for processing that will begin at approximately 7:00pm Sydney time on February 15. Images are expected to be made public 90 minutes later.

Since 2007, Stardust-NExT executed eight flight path correction manoeuvres, logged four circuits around the Sun and used one Earth gravity assist to meet up with Tempel 1.

Tempel 1 impact blast

The blast produced when an impactor released by the Deep Impact spacecraft, hit comet Tempel 1 in 2005. Scientist's hope Stardust NExT will give them a close-up look at the blast crater.

Another three manoeuvres are planned to refine the spacecraft’s path to the comet. Tempel 1’s orbit takes it as close in to the Sun as the orbit of Mars and almost as far away as the orbit of Jupiter. The spacecraft is expected to fly past the nearly 6-kilometre-wide comet at a distance of approximately 200 kilometres.

Running on empty

In 2004, Stardust became the first mission to collect particles directly from comet Wild 2, as well as interstellar dust. Samples were returned in 2006 for study via a capsule that detached from the spacecraft and parachuted to the ground southwest of Salt Lake City.

Mission controllers placed the still viable Stardust spacecraft on a trajectory that could potentially reuse the system if a target of opportunity presented itself.

In January 2007, NASA re-christened the mission Stardust-NExT and began a four-and-a-half year journey to comet Tempel 1.

“You could say our spacecraft is a seasoned veteran of cometary campaigns,” said Tim Larson, project manager for Stardust-NExT at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“It’s been half-way to Jupiter, executed picture-perfect flybys of an asteroid and a comet, collected cometary material for return to Earth, then headed back out into the void again, where we asked it to go head-to-head with a second comet nucleus.”

The mission team expects this fly-by to write the final chapter of the spacecraft’s success-filled story. The spacecraft is nearly out of fuel as it approaches 12 years of space travel, logging almost 6 billion kilometres since launch in 1999.

This fly-by and planned post-encounter imaging are expected to consume the remaining fuel.

Adapted from information issued by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Get SpaceInfo.com.au daily updates by RSS or email! Click the RSS Feed link at the top right-hand corner of this page, and then save the RSS Feed page to your bookmarks. Or, enter your email address (privacy assured) and we’ll send you daily updates. Or follow us on Twitter, @spaceinfo_oz

Comet mission on course

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft made a successful fly-by of asteroid Lutetia on July 10-11, but its real target is comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It will rendezvous with the comet in 2014, mapping it and studying it. It will then accompany the comet for months, from near the orbit of Jupiter down to its closest approach to the Sun.

In November 2014, Rosetta will deploy a mini-spacecraft called Philae to land on the comet’s nucleus.

This video was made just before Rosetta’s fly-by of Lutetia.

Adapted from information issued by Euronews / ESA.

Get SpaceInfo.com.au daily updates by RSS or email! Click the RSS Feed link at the top right-hand corner of this page, and then save the RSS Feed page to your bookmarks. Or, enter your email address (privacy assured) and we’ll send you daily updates. Or follow us on Twitter, @spaceinfo_oz

Zooming in on an asteroid

Approaching asteroid Lutetia

A sequence of images taken by the Rosetta spacecraft as it closed in on the asteroid Lutetia on July 10, 2010.

Europe’s comet-bound spacecraft Rosetta flew past the asteroid Lutetia on July 10, 2010, sending back tremendous images of the 130km-long rocky world.

The European Space Agency has put together this sequence of images (above) to show us what the view was like as Rosetta approached Lutetia. The rotation of the asteroid can be discerned, as can the craters pock-marking its surface.

Rosetta’s closest approach came at a distance of 3,162 kilometres.

Rosetta is on course for a rendezvous with its ultimate target, the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which it will reach in 2014.

For more Rosetta images of Lutetia, see our earlier story, Asteroid fly-by success!

Adapted from information issued by OSIRIS Team MPS / UPD / LAM / IAA / RSSD / INTA / UPM / DASP / IDA.

Get SpaceInfo.com.au daily updates by RSS or email! Click the RSS Feed link at the top right-hand corner of this page, and then save the RSS Feed page to your bookmarks. Or, enter your email address (privacy assured) and we’ll send you daily updates. Or follow us on Twitter, @spaceinfo_oz

Asteroid fly-by success!

Asteroid Lutetia

An amazing image of asteroid Lutetia taken at the moment of closest approach during the fly-by successfully accomplished by the Rosetta spacecraft.

  • Fly-by of asteroid of Lutetia accomplished
  • Rosetta spacecraft worked flawlessly
  • Now on target for Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Asteroid Lutetia has been revealed as a battered world of many craters.

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta mission has returned the first close-up images of the asteroid, showing that it is most probably a primitive survivor from the violent birth of the Solar System.

Asteroid Lutetia

At a distance of 36,000km, the OSIRIS Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) took this image of Lutetia, catching the planet Saturn in the background.

The fly-by has been a spectacular success with Rosetta performing faultlessly. Closest approach took place at 2:10am Sunday, Sydney time, (16:10 UTC Saturday), at a distance of 3,162 km.

The images show that Lutetia is heavily cratered, having suffered many impacts during its 4.5 billion years of existence. As Rosetta drew close, a giant bowl-shaped depression stretching across much of the asteroid rotated into view.

The images confirm that Lutetia is an elongated body, with its longest side around 130km.

The images come from the OSIRIS instrument, which combines a wide angle and a narrow angle camera. At closest approach, details down to a scale of 60 metres can be seen over the entire surface of Lutetia.

“I think this is a very old object. Tonight we have seen a remnant of the Solar System’s creation,” says Holger Sierks, OSIRIS principal investigator, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Lindau.

Rosetta raced past the asteroid at 15 km/s, completing the fly-by in just one minute. But the cameras and other instruments had been working for hours and in some cases days beforehand, and will continue afterwards. Shortly after closest approach, Rosetta began transmitting data to Earth for processing.

Asteroid Lutetia

A sequence of images taken as Rosetta approached Lutetia. The first image was taken about 9.5 hours before closest approach, 510000 km from the asteroid; the last one about 1.5 hours before closest approach, 8,100 km from the asteroid. The resolution changes from 9.6 km/pixel to 1.5 km/pixel.

Asteroid Lutetia

The final sequence of images of Lutetia before Rosetta's closest approach.

Ready for its next target

Lutetia has been a mystery for many years. Ground-based telescopes have shown that the asteroid presents confusing characteristics.

In some respects it resembles a C-type asteroid, a primitive body left over from the formation of the Solar System. In others, it looks like an M-type asteroid. These have been associated with iron meteorites, are usually reddish in colour and thought to be fragments of the cores of much larger objects.

Rosetta operated a full suite of instruments at the encounter, looking for evidence of a thin atmosphere, magnetic effects, and surface chemical composition as well as the asteroid’s density.

Asteroid Lutetia

Farewell Lutetia — Rosetta looked back for a final glimpse as it zoomed past.

They also attempted to catch any dust grains that may have been floating in space near the asteroid for on-board analysis. The results from these instruments will come in time.

The fly-by marks the attainment of one of Rosetta’s main objectives. The spacecraft will now continue to its primary target, Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It will rendezvous with the comet in 2014, mapping it and studying it. It will then accompany the comet for months, from near the orbit of Jupiter down to its closest approach to the Sun.

In November 2014, Rosetta will deploy a mini-spacecraft called Philae to land on the comet nucleus.

Adapted from information issued by ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team  / MPS / UPD / LAM / IAA / RSSD / INTA / UPM / DASP / IDA.

Get daily SpaceInfo.com.au updates by RSS or email! Click the RSS Feed link at the top right-hand corner of this page, and then save the RSS Feed page to your bookmarks. Or, enter your email address (privacy assured) and we’ll send you daily updates.

Titan gets a visitor

Artist's impression of Cassini passing Titan

NASA's Cassini probe will conduct a close fly-by of Titan on July 7, swooping to within about 1,000 kilometres of its surface.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is to conduct a close fly-by of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, on July 7. The craft will swoop to within 1,005 kilometres of the cloud-covered world, shooting past at a speed of 5.9 km per second (21,240km/h or 13,000mph).

During the close approach, instruments will study the chemical make-up of its atmosphere, while Cassini’s radar will scan a poorly-covered region of the moon. Other instruments will keep an eye on clouds in Titan’s atmosphere.

A black and white view of Titan

A black and white view of Titan, showing the dark region known as Senkyo.

Ice world with a thick atmosphere

In many respects Saturn’s largest moon is one of the most Earth-like worlds found to date. With its thick atmosphere and organic-rich chemistry, Titan resembles a frozen version of Earth, several billion years ago, before life began pumping oxygen into our atmosphere.

Titan is of great interest to scientists because it has a substantial, active atmosphere and complex, Earth-like processes that shape its surface. The moon is enveloped by an orange haze of naturally produced photochemical smog that frustratingly obscured its surface prior to Cassini’s arrival. Since 2004, the spacecraft’s observations have taken the study of this unique world into a whole new dimension.

Cassini has revealed that Titan’s surface is shaped by rivers and lakes of liquid ethane and methane (the main component of natural gas), which forms clouds and occasionally rains from the sky as water does on Earth. Winds sculpt vast regions of dark, hydrocarbon-rich dunes that girdle the moon’s equator and low latitudes. Volcanism may occur as well, but with liquid water as the lava.

First landing in the outer Solar System

Rounded river rocks on Titan and Earth.

Rounded river rocks on Titan (left) and Earth.

On its journey to Saturn, Cassini carried the European-built Huygens probe. On January 14, 2005, Huygens achieved humankind’s first landing on a body in the Outer Solar System when it parachuted through Titan’s murky skies. Huygens took measurements of atmospheric composition and wind speeds during its decent, along with an incredible series of images showing telltale patterns of erosion by flowing liquid. The probe came to rest on what appeared to be a floodplain, surrounded by rounded cobbles of water ice.

As the now-renamed Cassini Equinox Mission progresses, the spacecraft will monitor Titan’s atmosphere and surface for signs of seasonal change. The spacecraft’s radar and camera systems will continue to peer through the haze, expanding high-resolution maps of the surface. And scientists will eagerly await new data that could confirm the presence of a liquid ocean beneath the giant moon’s surface.

Adapted from information issued by NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute / ESA / University of Arizona / S.M. Matheson.

Get daily SpaceInfo.com.au updates by RSS or email! Click the RSS Feed link at the top right-hand corner of this page, and then save the RSS Feed page to your bookmarks. Or, enter your email address (privacy assured) and we’ll send you daily updates.

Comet probe pays visit to Earth

Artist's impression of Deep Impact and comet Tempel 1

Artist's impression of the then Deep Impact spacecraft visiting Comet Tempel 1 in 2005. Now renamed EPOXI, the spacecraft will visit another comet in November 2010.

  • EPOXI mission bound for Comet Hartley 2
  • To make fly-by of Earth to pick up speed
  • Due to reach the comet in November 2010

On Sunday, NASA’s historic Deep Impact spacecraft will fly past Earth for the fifth and last time on its current University of Maryland-led EPOXI mission. At time of closest approach to Earth, the spacecraft will be about 30,400 kilometres (18,900 miles) above the South Atlantic.

Mission navigators have tailored this trajectory to change the shape of the spacecraft’s orbit and to boost it on its way to the mission’s ultimate fly-by, a close encounter with comet Hartley 2 in November.

Diagram showing EPOXI's orbit and fly-bys

EPOXI will make a fly-by of Earth on June 26, and reach Comet Hartley 2 in November 2010.

“The speed and orbital track of the spacecraft can be changed by changing aspects of its fly-by of Earth, such as how close it comes to the planet,” explained University of Maryland astronomer Michael A’Hearn, principal investigator for both the EPOXI mission and its predecessor mission, Deep Impact.

“There is always some gravity boost at a fly-by and in some cases, like this one, it is the main reason for a fly-by,” said A’Hearn.

“The last Earth fly-by was used primarily to change the tilt of the spacecraft’s orbit to match that of comet Hartley 2, and we are using Sunday’s fly-by to also change the shape of the orbit to get us to the comet.”

The Deep Impact mission made history and headlines worldwide when it smashed a probe into comet Tempel 1 on July 4, 2005.

“Earth is a great place to pick up orbital velocity,” said Tim Larson, the EPOXI project manager from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “This fly-by will give our spacecraft a 1.5-kilometer-per-second [3,470 mph] boost, setting us up to get up close and personal with comet Hartley 2.”

A recycled mission

EPOXI is an extended mission of the Deep Impact fly-by spacecraft. Its name is derived from this mission’s two tasked science investigations—the Deep Impact Extended Investigation (DIXI) and the Extrasolar Planet Observation and Characterization (EPOCh).

Impact on Comet Tempel 1

In 2005, an impactor was collided with Comet Tempel 1, resulting in this huge flash.

On November 4, 2010, the mission will conduct an extended encounter with Hartley 2, studying the comet using all three of the spacecraft’s instruments (two telescopes with digital colour cameras and an infrared spectrometer).

On its original mission, the Deep Impact fly-by spacecraft had a companion probe spacecraft that was smashed into comet Tempel 1 to reveal for the first time the inner material of a comet.

Although scientific objectives have never been a primary purpose of the Deep Impact/EPOXI spacecraft’s fly-bys of Earth, the mission team has used the spacecraft’s instruments to find clear evidence of water on the Moon and to study light reflected from Earth as a template that scientists eventually may be able be use to identify Earth-like planets around other stars.

Adapted from information issued by the University of Maryland / NASA / JPL-Caltech / UMD / Pat Rawlings.