Another space probe to keep an eye on: JPL’s Deep Impact will be making headlines in about a month. On July 4th, the probe will launch a heavy projectile — an impactor — at Comet Tempel 1. Study of the resulting explosion and crater will help scientists learn about the composition and structure of comets, which may reveal clues as to the nature of the primordial solar system.
The mission hasn’t been problem-free, however: Deep Impact has a blurry high-res camera, though NASA says it’ll still produce the best comet closeups ever taken. (Update: Those images will be enhanced via a process called deconvolution.)
More stuff from the official site:
- Current location of Tempel 1 and the spacecraft. And all the other inner planets, too. You can do cool 3D things with the scrollbars. (java)
- Mission timeline. The mission ends at the point of impact. I’m not certain what they plan to do with the probe itself afterwards. Perhaps “deeper” impact?
- What will we see? CG simulations of the view of impact and flyby.
Space.com has a Deep Impact section with news and multimedia, along with a reminder of the last NASA mission to visit and land on a small celestial body: NEAR, which touched down on the asteroid Eros in Feb 2001. And I was posting about it back then. This weblog is starting to show its age.