This New Year's Eve the University of Maryland-led Deep Impact team will again celebrate a holiday in a way that few can match, when their Deep Impact spacecraft "buzzes" the Earth on a flyby that marks the beginning of a more than two-and-a-half-year journey to comet Hartley 2.
In 2005, the Deep Impact team, led by University of Maryland astronomer Michael A'Hearn, celebrated July 4th by smashing a probe into comet Tempel 1 to give the world its first look inside a comet.
The trip to Hartley 2 is one part of a new two-part mission for the team and its Deep Impact spacecraft. During the first six months of the journey, the Extrasolar Planet Observations and Characterization (EPOCh) mission team will use the larger of the two telescopes on the Deep Impact spacecraft to search for Earth-sized planets around five stars selected as likely candidates for such planets. Upon arriving at the comet the Deep Impact eXtended Investigation (DIXI) will conduct an extended flyby of Hartley 2 using all three of the spacecraft's instruments (two telescopes with digital color cameras and an infrared spectrometer. The name for the new combined mission, EPOXI, is a combination of the names of its component missions (EPOCh + DIXI = EPOXI).
The team is using the flyby of Earth to calibrate the spacecrafts instruments for the new mission and to help slingshot it on the way toward Hartley 2. Although the spacecraft will come closest to the Earth on New Year's Eve, the Maryland-led team has already begun its calibration work.
"On Saturday, 29 December, two days before its close flyby of Earth, the Deep Impact flyby spacecraft made observations of the moon to calibrate its instruments for its new mission, EPOXI," said A'Hearn. "Some calibrations are obtainable only on a bright, large source, like the moon when reasonably close to it. It looks as though everything operated just as the science team asked it to operate and you can't ask for anything better than that,â€ he said. "
'This Earth gravity assist provided a unique opportunity for us to calibrate our instruments using the Moon," said Jessica Sunshine, a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland. "In particular, the Moon is very useful because it fills the entire field of view of the infrared spectrometer. The results show that our spacecraft pointing and commanding was spot on. We also made measurements which will allow us to cross-calibrate our instruments with telescopic data and, in the very near future, with a wealth of lunar measurements from new orbiting spacecraft. These data will significantly improve the science from EPOCh observations of Earth and the DIXI flyby of comet Hartley 2, as well as from Deep Impact's prime mission to comet Tempel 1," said Sunshine who is deputy principal investigator on DIXI.
Lee Tune | EurekAlert!
Only an atom thick: Physicists succeed in measuring mechanical properties of 2D monolayer materials
17.01.2018 | Universität des Saarlandes
Black hole spin cranks-up radio volume
15.01.2018 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
17.01.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
17.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
17.01.2018 | Awards Funding