In a stunning display of precision and teamwork, NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft goes into the history books as the first man-made object to reach out and touch one of the comets that orbit within our solar system.
In the wee hours of July 4th, the piano-sized impactor made two course corrections, snapped some excellent pictures, and then slammed into the tip of Tempel 1 at over 22,000 miles per hour.
The resulting explosion was far greater than anticipated by mission specialists, and provided the fly-by part of the spacecraft with an unprecedented look at the internal composition of this type of comet. The data will be streaming back to earth for days, but it’s already clear that this mission was a “smashing success”.
For more images and details of this intriguing science mission, visit NASA’s Deep Impact web page.