Deep Impact Coverage: Early Composition Results for Comet Tempel 1

Deep Impact has taken an early look at some of the chemicals in the coma of Comet Tempel 1, detecting water, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons via spectral analysis. The coma is an envelope of gas and dust that becomes more active as a comet approaches the Sun. Outbursts of material occur as the comet heats up, though the exact mechanism is not well understood. Deep Impact also captured images with its medium-resolution camera of on outburst on June 23, 2005.

Scientists hope tomorrow’s impact between Deep Impact’s impactor spacecraft and Comet Tempel 1 will provide an even more detailed look at the comet’s composition by allowing pristine material inside to be uncovered. The impact is scheduled to occur at 10:52 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. NASA TV will provide coverage of the event and has posted a list of webcasts to be provided by various observatories.

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a fiction writer and poet, with his first published poem forthcoming later in 2017 from Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (, on Goodreads (richardleis), his (@richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).