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“Deep Impact” Space Show for Fourth of July

Posted January. 13, 2005 22:54,   


The “Deep Impact” spacecraft blasted off at 3:47 a.m. on January 13 (Korean time) from Cape Canaveral, Florida, United States on a mission to first reveal the heart of a comet.

This spacecraft will be off on a six-month, 431 million-kilometer journey to Comet Tempel 1 to put the 372 kilogram-launch vehicle (named “Impactor”) on a collision course with the comet.

Impactor will leave the mother ship on the Fourth of July and will collide with an ice-covered comet after 24 hours at the speed of 37,000 kilometers per hour. The spacecraft is expected to film the splinters from the smash with a special camera 500 kilometers away from the scene and broadcast it to NASA. This will give scientists a glimpse of ingredients of the comet. Deep Impact is headed for a one-way trip.

The crust of the comet has been changed due to solar heat over time, but the inner part is estimated to have preserved the primordial ingredients of the solar system at its infant stage of formation. Comet Tempel 1, which was discovered in 1867, orbits the sun in five-year periods.

Dong-Won Kim daviskim@donga.com