Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Preparing for impact

31.05.2005


On 4 July 2005, the NASA Deep Impact spacecraft will visit Comet 9P/Tempel 1. It will launch a 370 kg impactor probe that should produce a crater on the surface of the comet and a plume of gas, dust and ejected material.



Although dramatic images of the impact may be sent to Earth in near-real time by the Deep Impact spacecraft and its impactor, the spacecraft themselves have limited remote sensing capability. The parent spacecraft will observe the impact from 500 kilometres distance, and then turn to look at the other side of the nucleus, but most of the observations of the event will be carried out by other spacecraft and from Earth.

For this reason, a worldwide network of observers, both professional and amateur, is part of the Deep Impact project. Within the global network of space and Earth telescopes for this unprecedented astronomical event, Europe plays a significant role.


Two ESA spacecraft, ESA’s Rosetta comet-chaser and its XMM-Newton space observatory, together with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, will monitor the comet before impact, and then watch the impact and its aftermath.

ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) facilities in Chile will observe the event in a big observation campaign. ESA’s optical ground station at Tenerife, Spain, will also look at the impact.

Rosetta is in the most privileged position in space to watch this unique event, and will be able to monitor the comet continuously over an extended period.

Rosetta is likely to be one of the key observatories of this event because of its set of powerful remote-sensing instruments.

The Deep Impact experiment will be the first opportunity in time to study the crust and the interior of a comet. As the material inside the comet’s nucleus is pristine, it will reveal new information on the early phases of the Solar System.

It will also provide scientists with new insight on the physics of craters formation, and thereby give a better understanding on the crater record on comets and other bodies in the Solar System.

The scientific outcome of the experiment depends crucially on pre-impact and follow-up observations. Before the impact, it is necessary to find out as much about the comet as possible, such as size, albedo (reflectivity) and rotation period.

It is essential to have a good set of observations before the impact to unambiguously distinguish the effects of the impact from the natural activity of the comet.

Due to the currently limited understanding of the structure of these dirty ‘snowballs,’ it is not known what the effect of the impact will be. Some scientists predict the ejection of a plume and the creation of a football stadium sized crater. Others think that the comet could simply swallow the impactor with hardly any visible effect, or that it may eventually break up.

To prepare for the Deep Impact event, two teams of astronomers have already used ESO’s telescopes over several months to do pre-impact monitoring, taking images and spectra of the comet both in the visible and mid-infrared wavebands.

These teams make observations typically once per month, using either the 3.6m or the 3.5m New Technology Telescope (NTT) telescopes at La Silla.

ESO’s telescopes will also be used in the post-impact observations. As soon as the comet is visible after the impact from Chile, all major ESO telescopes – the four Unit Telescopes of the Very Large Telescope Array at Paranal, as well as the 3.6m, 3.5m NTT and the 2.2m ESO/MPG telescopes at La Silla – will be observing Tempel 1, in very close collaboration with ESA and the space mission’s scientific team.

Gerhard Schwehm | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Rosetta/SEM8PE0DU8E_0.html
http://www.esa.int

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Taking a spin on plasma space tornadoes with NASA observations
20.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth
17.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Antarctic landscape insights keep ice loss forecasts on the radar

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Filling the gap: High-latitude volcanic eruptions also have global impact

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Water world

20.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>