Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UMD-led deep impact spacecraft successfully flies by comet Hartley 2

05.11.2010
The University of Maryland-led EPOXI mission successfully flew by comet Hartley 2 at 10 a.m. EDT today, and the spacecraft has begun returning images. Hartley 2 is the fifth comet nucleus visited by any spacecraft and the second one visited by the Deep Impact spacecraft.

Scientists and mission controllers are studying never-before-seen images of Hartley 2 appearing on their computer terminal screens. See images at: http://epoxi.umd.edu/

"We are all holding our breath to see what discoveries await us in the observations near closest approach," said University of Maryland astronomer Michael A'Hearn, one of the originators of science team leader for both the Deep Impact mission and its follow on mission EPOXI.

At approximately 10 a.m. EDT, the spacecraft passed within 700 kilometers (435 miles) of the comet. Minutes after closest approach, the spacecraft's High-Gain Antenna was pointed at Earth and began downlinking vital spacecraft health and other engineering data stored aboard the spacecraft's onboard computer during the encounter. Twenty minutes later, the first images of the encounter made the 37 million kilometer (23 million mile) trip from the spacecraft to NASA's Deep Space Network antenna, appearing moments later on the mission's computer screens.

"The mission team and scientists have worked for this day," said Tim Larson, EPOXI project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "It's good to see Hartley 2 up close."

A post-encounter news conference featuring University of Maryland astronomers Michael A'Hearn, EPOXI principal investigator and Jessica Sunshine, deputy principal investigator, will be held at 1 p.m. PDT (4 p.m. EDT) in the von Karman auditorium at JPL. It will be carried live on NASA TV. Downlink and schedule information is online at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv . The event will also be carried live on http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2 .

A Deeper Impact on Planetary Science

With the latest EPOXI mission data on Hartley 2, the Deep Impact spacecraft is adding to an already extensive scientific legacy. Launched in January 2005, the spacecraft made scientific history and world-wide headlines when it smashed a probe into comet Tempel 1 on July 4th of that year. Following the conclusion of that mission, a Maryland-led team of scientists won approval from NASA to fly the Deep Impact spacecraft to a second comet.

The name EPOXI itself is a combination of the names for the two extended mission components: the extrasolar planet observations, called Extrasolar Planet Observations and Characterization (EPOCh), and the flyby of comet Hartley 2, called the Deep Impact Extended Investigation (DIXI). During the EPOCh phase of EPOXI, the Deep Impact spacecraft provided information on possible extrasolar planets and was one of three spacecraft to find for the first time clear evidence of water on Moon. A study accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal and just released by NASA, provides "colorful" findings on Earth and other planets in our solar system that someday may help identify earthlike worlds around other stars.

The overall objective of the flyby of Hartley 2 is the same as that for the Deep Impact mission's trip to Tempel 1: to learn more about the origin and history of our solar system by learning more about the composition and diversity of comets. Comets contain material from the early days of the solar system before the planets formed. "If we understand the comets really well it will tell us how the planets got made," explained A'Hearn. "That's why we choose comets to study."

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the EPOXI mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The University of Maryland, College Park, is home to the mission's principal investigator, Michael A'Hearn and eight other members of the EPOXI science team. Drake Deming of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., is the science lead for the mission's extrasolar planet observations. The spacecraft was built for NASA by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo.

Lee Tune | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umd.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A better way to weigh millions of solitary stars
15.12.2017 | Vanderbilt University

nachricht A chip for environmental and health monitoring
15.12.2017 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

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: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>