The Deep Impact Flyby spacecraft has been declared dead.
Alas, after nine years of space exploration that included an impact and subsequent flyby of comet 9P/Tempe, an additional comet flyby, approximately 500,000 images of celestial objects and history’s most traveled comet research mission (about 4.7 billion miles or 7.58 billion kilometers), NASA’s Deep Impact mission has ended. The last communication with the probe was Aug. 8.
The craft was designed to study the interior composition of the comet 9P/Tempel, by releasing an impactor into the comet. On July 4, 2005, the impactor successfully collided with the comet’s nucleus, excavating debris from the interior of the comet’s nucleus, allowing photographs of the impact crater. The photographs showed the comet to be more dusty and less icy than had been expected. The impact generated a large and bright dust cloud, which unexpectedly obscured the view of the impact crater.
After completing it primary mission, Deep Impact flew by Earth on December 31, 2007 on its way to an extended mission, designated EPOXI, with a dual purpose to study extrasolar planets and comet Hartley 2.
This is unfortunate timing as the EPOXI mission had just started imaging comet ISON and would have provided even more detail about this new visitor to the inner solar system.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +