News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

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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