Newsletter for the Deep Impact mission
The Deep Impact mission to explore beneath the surface of a comet was one of the most exciting events in 2005. What's going on
now? The engineering team has put the spacecraft into a sleep mode until NASA makes a decision about whether or not to extend the
mission and the science team is working almost as hard as they were the days following the encounter with comet Tempel 1.
Since there are so many ways to look at the data from the impact, the team will be working on data for some time. To know more
about the background of this mission, read:
Mission Update: Looking at the Data
The Deep Impact science team used some additional methods to look at the data from the July encounter with Tempel 1. Read
and find out why they still work closely with members of the engineering team to understand the data.
Up Close and Personal: Meet Steve Collins, Attitude Control Engineer
When he isn't working on "steering" spacecraft and rovers, you might find him speaking at a science fiction convention, taking a dance
class or spending time with his teenaged children. Given all the things that interest him, why did Steve Collins end up on the Deep
Impact mission to a comet? Find out.
Who else is making a Deep Impact? A horse?
That's right. The name Deep Impact is not just for NASA missions and movies anymore. Japan's sixth Triple Crown winning horse is
also named Deep Impact and it won the championship in a run that had attendees' hearts in their throats until the very end.
Archiving: Where does the data go?
Deep Impact science team members are still poring over the data from the July encounter but where does the data go in the end and
who gets to see it after that? You do. Read on to find out about the process.
The Deep Impact Mission - Vision to Reality
Congratulations go to the scientists and engineers of the Deep Impact mission which was awarded the Vision to Reality award by the
Space Frontier Foundation in October. From executive director, Jeff Krukin, "Deep Impact was selected because it represents the best
accomplishment of the year in turning the vision of true space exploration and the gathering of scientific knowledge into reality."
Brain Twister: Why did both spacecraft change their pointing position during encounter?
After the encounter, the team looked very carefully at all the images from both the impactor and flyby spacecraft and found a couple of
surprises. The pictures from the impactor showed that just before the collision, something had caused that spacecraft to repeatedly tilt
to the side resulting in a view away from the predicted impact site. The pictures taken by the flyby spacecraft showed that its camera
stayed locked on the predicted impact site up to the impact, but after the impact, that spacecraft tilted off a little to a new view and
stayed there until the nucleus flew overhead.
Steve Collins, an "Attitude Control" engineer for the Deep Impact mission can tell us what happened to both spacecraft but can
you figure it out on your own? Look at the questions and clues.
Question #1: Why did the impactor's camera view keep tilting away from the predicted point of impact?
- The closer you get to a comet nucleus, the more particles of ice and dust you encounter.
- The software on the impactor is continually giving that spacecraft information on the predicted point of impact.
- Certain pieces of hardware on the impactor have the job of assisting with the aiming of the impactor so its cameras can see the
point of impact. Which ones would come into play here?
Question #2: Why did the camera on the observing flyby spacecraft point at the predicted place of impact up until the collision
and then suddenly off to a new view?
- Remember what the team had programmed both spacecraft to do to find the point of impact and think about what difference
this could have made at the point of impact?
- There was much more material thrown from the nucleus (ejecta) during the collision than the team expected.
Do you think you know the answer to one or both of the questions? Find out if you are right.
Educators: Remember our activities make a Deep Impact on your students
Our Brain Twister above isn't the only activity for your students. You can find more activities on our Education Page at:
Did you see our past Deep News Issues?
to catch up on exciting past news from the Deep Impact mission.
Deep Impact is a Discovery mission. For more information on the Discovery Program, visit:
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