The surface of comet Tempel 1, hit by a NASA space probe during a spectacular July 4 experiment, bears evidence of impact craters, suggesting that the comet has collided with asteroids or other space travelers in its journeys around the Sun.
Several dozen circular features that appear to be impact craters, ranging from 40 to 400 meters across, were spotted on Tempel 1 during the Deep Impact mission, according to first results from the mission team published by Science and released at the annual meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society held at the University of Cambridge.
Tempel 1 is the first comet to show evidence for impact craters. In fact, differences in the comet’s topography and shape compared with Borrelly and Wild 2 – the two other comets studied in detail by scientists – “raises the question of whether any comet is typical when looked at closely,” the team writes.
Wendy Lawton | EurekAlert!
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