Deep Impact at Tempel 1: Nought But Dust?

It seems that Deep Impact‘s impact may not have been as deep as first thought. Recent observations of target comet Tempel 1 show lots of fine powder in the impact plume, and not as much rock and ice as astronomers expected. This most likely means that not a lot of underground comet material was excavated by the collision, and some of our theories about cometary composition and structure will need to be revised.

Given funding and some careful planning, Deep Impact might have a new mission when it’s done with this one; JPL may retarget the craft at Comet 85P/Boethin, which, by the way, was discovered by a priest in the Philippines, Reverend Leo Boethin. With a gravitational assist from Earth, Deep Impact could be at 85P/Boethin by 2008.