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 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL
23.06.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

nachricht Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?
23.06.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>