National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Return to Solar System Exploration
Facebook Twitter YouTube Facebook Twitter YouTube Flickr iTunes
Follow Us
July 2003
Fact Sheet  |  Deep News  |  Biographies  |  What Did We Hope to See?  |  Timeline 
Quick Facts  |  Mission Update  |  How Deep Impact Got Its Name 

Mission - Mission Update

PI Update - July 2003

We will be preparing short messages on a more-or-less monthly basis to keep people up to date on the Deep Impact project. Initially, this message consists primarily of a technical update from me, the PI. In the future we will also provide updates on other aspects - new outreach activities, new additions to the web pages, and so on.

The project completed a major milestone in June as the instruments were delivered from the instrument team to the spacecraft team. The science team and the engineers at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. completed their tests and their calibrations in the vacuum tanks at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.. The spacecraft team is now beginning integration of the instruments into the spacecraft. The Impactor Targeting Sensor (ITS) is already integrated into the impactor spacecraft. The ITS is in two packages - the telescope and detector package and the electronics box - both of which are now integrated into the spacecraft and checked out. Meanwhile, the High Resolution Instrument (HRI), consisting of a large telescope with both an optical imager and an infrared spectrometer, and the Medium Resolution Instrument (MRI), consisting of a smaller telescope and optical imager, have been mounted on the instrument platAttributes. This platform, which has also been checked out electronically with the spacecraft, will be mounted onto the side of the flyby spacecraft after completion of the interior components of the spacecraft. For more information on the spacecraft instruments, see

Meanwhile, the science team is analyzing the data taken during the testing of the instruments in the vacuum chamber in order to develop the best techniques for calibrating the data that will be taken during flight. Additional calibrations will be taken during flight to fine-tune the numerical details of the calibration, but the data taken in the lab should be sufficient to determine all the effects which must be taken into account in processing the data. Pictures of the instruments are available at

On the spacecraft side, the team completed the flash testing of the solar panels. In this test, the panels were illuminated by a flash that puts, very briefly, as much light on the panels as does the sun. The output of the solar panels is measured during the flash to verify that the solar panels will provide the voltage and power required by the spacecraft. Pictures of the flash test are at

Flash Test
Flash Test (click for more information)

The science team continues to develop tools for visualizing and analyzing the impact. Jim Richardson, a graduate student working with Prof. Jay Melosh, has developed a useful tool that will allow us to vary the orientation of a simulated impact until we can reproduce our observations. Ultimately, these simulations will be used to understand the physical processes that occur in the cometary nucleus based on theories of hypervelocity impacts into solid bodies. We have posted two of these simulations on the web page for your viewing. The animations show the field of view of the two cameras. Take a look at

Don't forget to Send Your Name to the Comet, if you haven't already.
(NOTE: This campaign was closed in January 2004.)

Mike A'Hearn, University of Maryland

Mission Update Archive

Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writers: Courtney O'Connor and Bill Dunford
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 28 Jun 2010