NASA Unveils Plans for Comet

and results have come in finally!

Date: 07/09/1999

update - 1-25-08



Dangers are caused by Man and Nature.

The man creates dangers by exert power over people's lives and misunderstanding events.


Deep Impact Launched!
by Amir Alexander

January 12, 2005:

Find out about Stardust and its flyby of comet Wild 2
Learn More about Comets!

With a deafening roar and a cloud of white smoke, Deep Impact was launched on it way today at 1:47pm Eastern Standard Time. Right on time, the Delta II rocket rose smoothly from pad 17-B at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying the spacecraft with it. The successful launch took place during the very first window of opportunity of a launch period that was to last through January 28th. It marked the beginning of a six-month 431 million kilometer (268 million mile) voyage for Deep Impact, which will culminate with a dramatic encounter with comet Tempel 1 on July 4th of this year.

The idea behind Deep Impact is as simple as it is surprising: to find out the inner structure and make-up of a comet, what could be more natural than punching a hole in it? That is precisely what Deep Impact will do, by sending an impactor crashing into comet Tempel 1 at a speed of 10 kilometers (6 miles) per second - about ten times the speed of a rifle bullet.

Scientists hope to learn a great deal from Deep Impact about what comets are made of and how they evolve. At the moment, explained mission Principal Investigator Michael A'Hearn of the University of Maryland, scientists aren't even sure whether the surface of a comet is soft and dusty or concrete hard. Scientists know that the outer surface of short period comets like Tempel 1 has been affected by their regular passes near the Sun, which heats them up produces their characteristic coma and tail. They do not know, however, how deeply these changes extend into the comet's crust, and how far beneath the surface can be found the original pristine cometary matter. The depth and shape of the crater created by Deep Impact, and the amount and trajectory of the ejecta it will send into space, will go a long way towards answering these questions.

In order to accomplish the remarkable feat of crashing into a comet while closely observing the results, Deep Impact was built not as one spacecraft, but two. The “Flyby” craft, also known as the “mother ship,” is about the size of a medium Sports Utility Vehicle and weighs 600 kilograms (1,325 pounds). It carries on board two telescopes: one is 30 centimeters in diameter, the other 12 centimeters in diameter. The larger of these is the largest telescope -and one of the largest instruments - ever carried into space, and it is connected to both a multispectral camera and an infrared spectrometer. The smaller telescope has a wider viewing angle, and will be more useful for navigating the spacecraft to its destination.

On its way to the comet the Flyby craft will carry with it the cone-shaped “Impactor” craft, 1 meter (39 inches) in length, 1 meter in diameter, weighing 372 kilograms and composed largely of copper. One day before the scheduled collision the Flyby craft will release the Impactor directly into the path of the comet, and then scurry away to a safer distance. During its single day of independent flight, cameras on board the Impactor will be taking closer and closer images of the oncoming comet, closing in at a relative speed of 37,000 kilometers per hour (23,000 mph) or just over 10 kilometers (6 miles)per second. Upon impact, the craft will plunge into the surface of Tempel 1, creating the first man-made crater on a comet and destroying itself in the process.

From a few hundred kilometers away, the Deep Impact Flyby craft will be watching, and taking pictures. The best pictures will likely be among the first ones taken in the first 850 seconds (just over 14 minutes) - the time it will take the comet to overtake and pass the Flyby craft following the impact. With its High Resolution Instrument , which includes a 30 centimeter telescope, the Flyby Craft will be able to record the impact and its aftermath in extraordinary detail. It will be able to distinguish fragments and features on the comet's urface as small as 2 meters in diameter, transmitting to Earth images of unprecedented detail and clarity. “We will be capturing the whole thing on the most powerful camera to fly in deep space said mission Principal Investigator Michael A’Hearn of the University of Maryland. According to mission co-investigator Jay Melosh, the images of Tempel 1 returned by Deep Impact may be as much as 10 times clearer and more detailed than those taken by Stardust during its flyby of comet Wild 2.

During the hours immediately before and after the impact, both the Flyby and Impactor crafts will be completely self-guided. To approach Tempel 1 and strike it in a location that will be visible both from Earth and from the Flyby craft, they will rely on new software developed especially for the mission and stored on their on-board computers. Even if controllers on Earth wanted to intervene they would find it impossible: the time it would take for for information from the spacecraft to reach the Earth, and commands from Earth to get back to the spacecraft is around 20 minutes. This means that controllers' instructions would reach Deep Impact far, far too late to affect the approach maneuvers.


Bits of comet surprise scientists

Friday, January 25, 2008

Tiny samples of a glowing comet, flown back to Earth by a pioneering spacecraft named Stardust, hold remarkably little dust from any ancient far-off stars, but a lot of the stuff that makes up nearby rocky asteroids, Livermore scientists have found to their surprise.

The Stardust mission was the first in space history to snatch material from a distant comet in orbit around the sun, and researchers all over the world had expected the microscopic cometary grains to be older than the sun itself - material from a time billions of years ago when the solar system was merely a cloud of dust and gas swirling around a "proto sun."

Instead, a team of analysts at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has discovered that thousands of the comet's grains are actually bits of the same silicate rocks found in meteorites that fall to Earth from the asteroid belt between Earth and Mars.

The Livermore team's two leaders, materials scientist Hope Ishii and astrophysicist John Bradley, discussed their findings with reporters Thursday. Their full report is being published Friday in the journal Science.

Stardust was launched from Earth nine years ago on its journey of 3 billion miles. It circled the sun three times before it reached its target - a comet named Wild-2 - and grabbed samples of the comet's dusty material in a filmy trap called an aerogel four years ago. The spacecraft finally returned to Earth two years ago and jettisoned its precious cargo by parachute over the Utah desert.

Since then, nearly 200 scientists at more than 75 institutions have been analyzing the particles from the comet, and the Livermore team is one.

Curiously, Ishii said, the comet's dust does not include many of the metals that scientists had expected to find in an object that must have been formed long ago close to the solar system and later was flung far out into a region called the Kuiper Belt.

Most scientists, she said, had expected to find a treasure trove of the solar system's most primitive material, but it's not there in comet Wild-2.

To Bradley, the fact that few of the particles the team analyzed appear to date from the solar system's earliest formation is "somewhat disappointing," but to scientists, he said, "a dose of cold reality is a good thing." It means, he said, that they must now try to understand why this comet - and perhaps many others - hold so little primitive material that formed close to the young sun, and so much that makes up what are known as chondritic matter found in meteorites from the asteroid belt.

Hundreds of other scientists in laboratories around the world are still analyzing other samples of the Stardust spacecraft's priceless cargo, and at NASA's Ames Research Center astrophysicist Scott Sandford has recently reported that some of the comet's particles reveal organic material - the same chemicals from which the ingredients for life are made.

Donald Brownlee of the University of Washington, the Stardust mission's principal investigator, told The Chronicle on Thursday that other analysts had "absolutely" found grains of minerals in the comet that could only have come from the sun's earliest days - perhaps 5 billion years ago.

Although most of the material analyzed by the Livermore team clearly resembles the stuff of asteroids, something less 1 percent of the grains analyzed by others do, in fact, predate the solar system's formation, Brownlee said.

A NASA spacecraft called Deep Impact flew to the comet named Tempel 1 and deliberately crashed into it to kick up a cloud of dust that the spacecraft's instruments analyzed.

Michael O'Hearn of the University of Maryland, that mission's science leader, said in an e-mail Thursday that "these results (from Livermore) make an even stronger case for the need for a new Comet Surface Sample Return mission."

In fact, a spacecraft named Rosetta from the European Space Agency is now on a 10-year journey to a comet even more distant than Stardust's target. Rosetta will fly alongside the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko for a full year as it orbits the sun. It will then release a lander to the comet's surface and bake samples in an oven for analysis right there.

Rosetta's date with the comet is May 2014.

E-mail David Perlman at




.c The Associated Press


LOS ANGELES (AP) - A spacecraft named Deep Impact will fire a 1,100-pound copper bullet at the nucleus of a comet, blasting out a crater the size of a football field and as deep as a seven-story building.

The radical $240 million mission, approved Wednesday by NASA administrators, may sound more like fiction than science, but its primary purpose will be to study the makeup of comets.

It's a coincidence that the project has the same name as last summer's disaster movie ``Deep Impact,'' which was about a comet smacking Earth, mission planners said Thursday.

``The name was selected prior to the movie,'' said James Graf, Deep Impact's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. ``It wasn't inspired by it.

Deep Impact is scheduled to be launched in January 2004 and will arrive at comet Tempel 1 on July 4, 2005. The projectile will separate from the spacecraft and hit the comet at 22,300 mph.

Shortly after impact, the craft will come within 300 miles of the comet surface and send back data and pictures of the debris and crater. It will eventually zoom off into space.

Comets are believed to be remnants from the early days of the solar system, and several missions are planned to observe them close-up. Deep Impact's projectile, however, will be the first to crash into one.

Deep Impact will allow scientists to study the inside of a comet by observing the debris ejected from the crater.

``It can give us an understanding of what the solar system looked like during its formation, and what contributions comets may have made to our life here on Earth,'' Graf said.

The impact should be visible from Earth - 83 million miles away - with the aid of a telescope.

The mission poses no threat to Earth, Graf said. The impact crater will be small compared with the overall size of the comet's nucleus.

NASA's approval of Deep Impact was made less than two weeks after the space agency pulled the plug on another mission to the same comet. Space Technology 4/Champollion would have landed on Tempel 1 and drilled beneath the surface.

NASA administrators decided to favor Deep Impact because it was focused solely on science and fit into existing budget plans, said Doug Isbell, a NASA spokesman in Washington, D.C.

AP-NY-07-08-99 2230EDT

Copyright 1999 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Deep Impact Space Probe Aims to Slam Into Comet
Thu Oct 21, 3:45 PM ET

By Deborah Zabarenko

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (Reuters) - Astronomers plan to slam an armchair-sized "impactor" into comet Tempel 1 to see what's inside -- and possibly help future scientists determine how to keep such space rocks from colliding with Earth.

If all goes as scheduled, the NASA (news - web sites) Deep Impact spacecraft, set for launch on Dec. 30, will gently let go of the 820-pound impactor on July 4, 2005, and the comet's rocky part will hit it at a speed of 23,800 miles an hour.

The smash will take place some 80 million miles from Earth, and while the comet itself is 100 times too dim to be seen with unaided eyes, the material thrown up by the collision could be visible with small telescopes, the project's principal investigator said on Thursday.

"We're going to hit it and see what happens," astronomer Michael A'Hearn of the University of Maryland said at a briefing outside Washington.

NASA's Stardust spacecraft took pictures of the nucleus of comet Wild 2 during a fly-by last January, but Deep Impact will actually blast a crater into the heart of a comet to see its interior.

Knowing what is inside Tempel 1 could assist in later missions aimed at nudging a so-called doomsday space rock away from Earth. Such an impact could cause catastrophic damage, and scientists have been working to identify potentially threatening asteroids and comets, known as near-Earth objects, that might have the potential to collide with our planet.


Tempel 1 does not threaten Earth, but its inner workings could offer information about more menacing space rocks.

"The properties of the cometary nucleus (of Tempel 1)... are probably representative of the really dark near-Earth objects, which are likely dormant comets," A'Hearn said.

He said the Deep Impact mission, which will cost some $311 million, will let future investigators know whether it would be easy to attach thrusters to a comet to push it out of the way.

A'Hearn said the impact with Tempel 1 is likely to produce a crater the size of a football stadium on a comet with a diameter of about 3.7 miles.

But if the comet's nucleus is more like a solid ice cube, the impact might create a much smaller crater.

If the comet is made of what A'Hearn called solid pumice rock -- hard but full of holes -- the impact would simply compress the existing material.

Or the comet might even have the consistency of powdery snow, in which case the impactor would tunnel right through it.

A remote possibility is that the impact would create a shockwave that would break it apart, though A'Hearn called this the least likely scenario.

More information and images are available online at

March 28, 2005 — Engineers are considering options to restore or work around a problem with a high-resolution telescope on NASA's comet-smashing Deep Impact probe.

The spacecraft, which was launched Jan. 12, is on track to encounter its target, Comet Tempel 1, on July 4.

Deep Impact, as its name implies, will release a copper-tipped projectile into the path of the comet.

Flying through space at 23,000 mph, the comet is expected to strike the coffee-table sized impactor with the force of 4 1/2 tons of dynamite, in the process carving out a hole in its body that could be as large as a stadium.

Scientists are eager to study the inside of a comet for more clues about how our solar system formed. Comets not only contain original materials from the birth of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago; they also are believed to have played a vital role in nurturing Earth by delivering water and organic matter.

On Friday, however, the space agency had more immediate concerns. An investigative team has been named to try to come up with options for restoring Deep Impact's High Resolution Imager to perfect focus.

For weeks, spacecraft operators have been trying to bake out residual moisture from the telescope's barrel, but those attempts have not worked.

"We are very early in the process of examining the data from all the instruments," said Deep Impact lead scientist Michael A'Hearn, with the University of Maryland in College Park.

"Even if the spatial resolution of the High Resolution Imager remains at present levels, we still expect to obtain the best, most detailed pictures of a comet ever taken."

Added project manager Rick Grammier, with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 

Pasadena, Calif., "This in no way will affect our ability to impact the comet."

Engineers believe the moisture seeped into the telescope during the final hours before launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and during the rocket ride through the atmosphere.

After allowing the telescope to heat up, the Deep Impact team took test pictures, but the images indicate the instrument has not reached perfect focus, NASA said in a statement.

The High Resolution Instrument includes both a camera and an infrared spectrometer. The spacecraft also has a Medium Resolution Instrument and a duplicate camera on the impactor, which will record and radio data until it is run over by the comet.

Both the Medium Resolution Instrument and the sensors on the impactor are working as expected, NASA said.

Deep impact spacecraft to 'meet' comet on July 4: NASA
Posted on : 2005-03-27| Author : Peter Goodyear
News Category : Space

NASA today confirmed that its Boulder-built Deep Impact spacecraft would keep its July 4 date with comet Tempel 1. However, officials are trying to determine why one of the cameras on the craft got blurred.

NASA said that the High Resolution Instrument had got some moisture on it during the time it was waiting for the Jan 12 launch. Engineers have tried to bake-out the moisture but the focus is still not picture perfect.
Rick Grammier, Deep Impact project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), said, "This in no way will affect our ability to impact the comet on July 4. Everyone on the science and engineering teams is getting very excited and looking forward to the encounter."

He added the all other instruments on Deep Impact are in excellent condition. The sensors and other gadgets on the craft are expected to collect data on the material that is hurled out of the comet after the collision.

The July 4 mission has been undertaken to probe the origins of solar system. The spacecraft is expected to crash into the comet at a speed of 23,000 mph. The Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes will observe the effect of the collision.

This mission will be the first one to get a detailed view of the inside of a comet.




Ed Dames, on the Art Bell shows  ( )  on 4-9-2005 predicted that the shuttle would be brought down by a meteor shower during November or December 2005 and that dire consequences would occur shortly thereafter. 

See what has happened in the past.

Tthe Aztec emperor Montezuma was terrorized by the arrival of a comet. The focus of this fear is significant because it was shared by emperors and kings and tribal chiefs the world over. The comet means the death of great leaders.


550 million years ago. The Cambrian Explosion. All the known animal types (phyla) suddenly appear in less than 100 million years. Since life existed for about 3.5 billion years without animals evolving, perhaps complex animal life does not inevitably arise from "microbial" life. Apollo lunar samples indicate that a series of asteroids or comets likely hit Earth at an unusually high rate at this time. Also at this time, global warning due to volcanos may have finally ended a "Snowball Earth" - a condition where the entire globe is covered in deep ice.

372 BC

Ephorus of Cyme (c. 400-330 BC), of Cyme in Aeolia, Asia Minor, a student of Isocrates, observed a splitting of a comet

Remarkably, most sungrazing comets appear to be fragments of a single giant comet that broke apart near perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) long ago. Marsden speculates that the parent might have been a bright comet seen by the Greek astronomer Ephorus in 372 BC. Ephorus reported that the comet split in two. Splits may have occurred again and again, producing the Kreutz sungrazer family (named after the nineteenth-century German astronomer who studied them in some detail). The sungrazers share an elliptical orbit that brings some of the fragments less than 50,000 km from the Sun. Comet Champion of the Solar System

Astrology played an important role in the ancient Middle East, including the Jews. It would not be uncommon to correlate some celestial event with the birth of Jesus, just as the eclipse had been correlated to the death of Herod and a comet with the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BCE. No comets or Novae, "new stars," can be associated by astronomers with the period of Jesus' birth. Hence the source of the Star of Bethlehem remained a mystery or was considered myth.

A comet preceded the death of the Emperor Macrinus in A.D. 218, 

The comet of A.D. 451 or A.D. 453 announced the death of Attila, and the comet of A.D. 455 that of the Emperor Valentinian. So widely spread was the belief in the connection between the death of the great and those menacing signs in the heavens that the chroniclers of old appear to have recorded comets which were never seen, such as the comet of A.D. 814, which was supposed to have presaged the death of Charlemagne.

In sixteenth place, after Oriphiel, Anael, Spirit of Venus, took up the direction of the universe for the third time on the last day of January, 5315 years from the foundation of the heavens and the earth, 109 years after Christ's Nativityto rule for 354 years and 4 months to the year of the world 5669 and 4 months, which is the year 463 of the Lord's incarnation. We may note that, during almost this entire reign of the Angel of Venus, the Christian Church increased amidst persecutions, and finally prevailed after thousands were murdered for their faith in Christ. Numerous heresies then arose in the bosom of the Churchheresies that were extinguished from the blood of the virtuous only with great trouble and after much time. At that time, too, numerous people arose who were celebrated in all branches of knowledge: theologians, astronomers, doctors, orators, historiansnot only among the gentiles but also among Christians. The faithless finally stopped persecuting the Church after Constantine the Great was baptized in the year of the world 5539 when the Angel of Venus, Anael had passed the culminating point of its cycle of dominion. After this there were still some troubles caused by impious people, but the Church generally lived in peace. During this period, the human race which, since the time of King Ninus had been miserably lost in the cult of idols for 2,300 years, was mercifully brought back to knowledge of the one God. Many subtle arts grew up and, in agreement with the nature of Venus, developed and embellished themselves. For human manners change with the times and things below correspond with things above, and receive their influence. The soul, besides, is free, and not under the influence of the stars, unless it becomes stained, being too attached to the body, and allows itself to be guided by the latter. For the Angels, engines of the orbs, can neither destroy nor alter anything established by nature. A huge comet of AD 336 had announced the death of the great emperor Constantine.

The Greeks believed that darkness overshadowed the earth (due to eclipses) at the deaths of Prometheus, Atreus, Hercules, Æ sculapius, and Alexander the Great. The Roman legends held that at the death of Romulus there was darkness for six hours. In the history of the Caesars occur portents of all three kinds; for at the death of Julius the earth was shrouded in darkness, the birth of Augustus was heralded by a star, and the downfall of Nero by a comet.

Of course kings knew very well the special perils of comets. When a comet in 837 drew the attention of King Louis the Pious of France, "The king went into a veritable orgy of prayers and devotions, ordering churches and shrines built to appease the imagined wrath of God." The Carthaginian general Hannibal in 184 B.C. was warned that a "recently- discovered comet meant he would die soon." He answered the comet by committing suicide.

When Halley's Comet appeared in April 1066, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle gave this report: ...In this year King Harald came from York to Westminster at Easter, which was after the mid winter in which the king (Edward the Confessor) died. Then was seen over all England such a sign in the heaven as no man ever before saw; some say it was the star Cometa.


HALE BOPP - 1997





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