Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Deep Impact's Crater on Tempel 1

Here it is, the crater that was produced on comet Tempel 1 when Deep Impact impactor slammed into it in July 2005:

The view on the left was taken by the Deep Impact probe. On the right a new image from Stardust-NExT. Given how impressive the cratering process was, many people were expecting to see a much more prominent crater, but mission scientists indicated that it was about what was expected. From NASA:

On the left, the image from Deep Impact shows a dark mound about 50 meters (160 feet) in size. It is inside a yellow circle that shows the area hit by the impactor released by Deep Impact. The image on the right, newly obtained by NASA's Stardust spacecraft, shows the impactor erased that dark mound and flattened the area. The outer circle annotated on the right-hand image shows the outer rim of the crater and the inner circle shows the crater floor. The crater is estimated to be 150 meters (500 feet) in diameter.

Scientists are still working to estimate the depth of the crater, but preliminary analysis shows that it is shallow.

Hats off to the Stardust-NExT team for pulling off such a successful mission. There was a great deal of planning to ensure that the proper side of the comet would be visible during closest approach. All of this could not have been done without the many ground-based observations of the comet that provided the necessary data to make this flyby a success.

No comments:

Post a Comment