[meteorite-list] Deep News #9 - Newsletter for the Deep Impact mission
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 10:32:52 2004
Newsletter for the Deep Impact mission
Issue 9, March 2004
Welcome to our March issue of Deep News, the newsletter that gives
you the latest update on the Deep Impact mission to put a crater
in Comet Tempel 1. A year from now we will be speeding toward
Tempel 1 to look beneath its surface by excavating a crater the
size of a football stadium using an impactor spacecraft. Since
this will be the first mission to offer you a peak inside of a
comet nucleus, scientists look forward to finding new clues to
the formation of the solar system hidden deep inside. To learn
more about the Deep Impact mission, visit our web site at:
PICTURE THIS! - IS YOUR NAME ON THIS IMPACTOR?
If you are one of the over 625,000 people who entered our name
collection campaign, Send Your Name to a Comet, then we have a
picture for you. The CD containing the names is safely sealed
onto the surface of the copper nosed impactor that will make a
crater in Comet Tempel 1 on July 4th, 2005. The CD, along with
both the flyby and impactor spacecraft, will go through
environmental testing later this month.
UPDATE FROM PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR, MIKE A'HEARN
This month, PI, Mike A'Hearn reports on the launch of the
European Space Agency's Rosetta mission and its relationship
to the Deep Impact mission.
MEET JESSICA SUNSHINE
Jessica Sunshine is a member of the Deep Impact science team.
When she isn't preparing to use the IR spectrometer to tell us
about the composition and geology of Comet Tempel 1, you might
find her playing the viola for an orchestra in the Washington,
COMETS IN ANCIENT CULTURES - MESSENGER OF THE GODS?
Data from the Deep Impact mission will answer many of our
questions about the structure and composition of comets but
what have some of our ancient cultures thought of them? Are
they omens of disaster or messengers of the gods? Noah Goldman,
a student intern from the College Park Scholars program at the
University of Maryland decided to explore this issue.
QUESTIONS FROM YOU - HOW DID EARLIER CULTURES KNOW WHEN A COMET
Actually, early cultures where not even aware of comets as being
icy bodies in the Solar System. So every comet they saw was a
'new' demon in their belief system. It wasn't until the late
1600's that astronomers thought that some comets that had been
observed through the centuries might be the same comets seen
over and over. In fact, the "first" comet that is defined as
periodic, meaning that it is seen on a regular basis, is comet
Halley. It is named after Edmund Halley who noticed that every
76 years there was a comet visible. He was able to predict when
that one comet would return. Unfortunately, he died before he
could see his prediction come true, but the comet was still
named after him. How was he able to predict the return of
this comet? Well, every comet has a very distinctive orbit or
elliptical path around the sun. That orbit can be defined with
a set of numbers that we refer to as "orbital elements." Since
the path of the comets (and the planets) are in three dimensional
space, we need at least 3 numbers to orient that path, a few
others to define the size and shape, and a few to define the
position in the orbit. Using these orbital elements, we can
then calculate a comet's past and future positions to predict
when it will next be observable. If a comet is found by chance,
one has to observe it long enough to trace its path on the sky,
fit it to an ellipse to determine the orbital elements, then
compare those values to a table of known comet orbital elements
to identify it.
We will be adding some more about orbital elements to the
website in the future so stay tuned.
In the meantime take a look at,
CAN YOU ANSWER THIS?
Play the "Can You Answer This" game that tests your skills in
treasure hunting around the Deep Impact web site for clues to the
answers. If you didn't get the chance to play our past games, you
may want to visit:
If you played Can You Answer This? in February, here are the answers:
And now - on to March 2004 Can You Answer This. From now on, the
answers will be available to you as well - but no cheating!
BASIC TRAINING - BOOT CAMP FOR COMET LOVERS
Ray Brown, a science journalist at the University of Maryland
joins our web team of writers. Over the coming months, Ray will
explain how the activity of impacting Comet Tempel 1 will answer
the science questions posed by the Deep Impact science team. It's
trickier than you think so you'll want to see each upcoming issue.
But first, in case you are missing any of the basics for our mission,
take a look at Ray's introduction and you'll be ready next month
when we start digging into those science questions.
WHERE ARE WE MAKING A DEEP IMPACT?
The answer is - all over the United States. If you visited Carl's
Junior or Hardees during January and February, you may have
purchased your own toy comet and Deep Impact trading card with
your children's meal. The swirling comet was one of four special
offer toys in their NASA Kids series.
The Deep Impact mission is a partnership among the University of
Maryland (UMD), the California Institute of Technology's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Ball Aerospace and Technology
Corp (BATC). Deep Impact is a NASA Discovery mission, eighth in a
series of low-cost, highly focused space science investigations. See
http://deepimpact.jpl.nasa.gov or our mirror site at
Received on Fri 19 Mar 2004 05:07:31 PM PST