Sunday, March 27, 2005

'Collision' Into Comet On Schedule

Deep impact spacecraft to 'meet' comet on July 4: NASA

By Peter Goodyear

NASA today confirmed that its Boulder-built Deep Impact spacecraft would keep its July 4 date with comet Tempel 1. However, officials are trying to determine why one of the cameras on the craft got blurred.

NASA said that the High Resolution Instrument had got some moisture on it during the time it was waiting for the Jan 12 launch. Engineers have tried to bake-out the moisture but the focus is still not picture perfect.

Rick Grammier, Deep Impact project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), said, "This in no way will affect our ability to impact the comet on July 4. Everyone on the science and engineering teams is getting very excited and looking forward to the encounter."

He added the all other instruments on Deep Impact are in excellent condition. The sensors and other gadgets on the craft are expected to collect data on the material that is hurled out of the comet after the collision.

The July 4 mission has been undertaken to probe the origins of solar system. The spacecraft is expected to crash into the comet at a speed of 23,000 mph. The Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes will observe the effect of the collision.

This mission will be the first one to get a detailed view of the inside of a comet.

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