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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Published by Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a poet and writer living in Tucson, Arizona. His poetry has been published in or is forthcoming from Impossible Archetype and The Laurel Review. A work of flash fiction is forthcoming from Cold Creek Review. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published online at Tiny Donkey and Fairy Tale Review's Fairy-Tale Files. Richard is also Downlink Lead for HiRISE at the University of Arizona.