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NASA gave the green light to the development of the Deep Impact mission

The Deep Impact spacecraft was sent for a crash mission on the comet Temple-1. Cameras and spectrometers will track the composition of the materials that will be flown from the comet from the mother spacecraft.

Avi Blizovsky

NASA this week gave the green light to the development of a robotic spacecraft that looks like
Came out of the science fiction books, or rather from a science movie script
fictional. Imagine intercepting a comet in deep space while using
with heavy rockets to create a hole in the celestial body as deep as a building
It is seven stories tall and in the area of ​​a football field.
But NASA this week gave permission to continue developing such a spaceship, which will be launched
in January 2004 and meet a year and a half later with the comet Temple-1
The spacecraft, whose name will be Deep Impact, like the name of the film, will reach the comet,
Land on it and start digging under its surface.
The reason for the experiment is that if a comet is discovered that is on a collision course with
Earth, then NASA could send a spacecraft there, dig a hole, fill it
Load it with explosives and blow up the asteroid when it is on the other side of
the sun, and tilt its course so that it moves away from the earth.
And in somewhat more conventional experiments, the researchers also hope that the spacecraft
Allow them to examine fresh materials from the comet, they are mostly interested
To examine the composition of the materials hiding under the surface of the comet, something
which may lead to scientific breakthroughs.
The spacecraft weighing 350 kg, equipped with a camera will separate from the spacecraft that will bring it
near the comet, and land on the comet at a speed of 36,000 kilometers per hour,
When it throws materials from the comet into space with the force of its impact. Camera
and a measuring device for the composition of the materials (infrared spectrometer), which will be assembled
On the spaceship that will bring the vessel that will crash, they will examine the results of the crash, the
The composition of the materials that will be ejected from the comet and the asteroid core that may be exposed.
The cost of the operation is 279 million dollars. The principal investigator responsible for it will be
Dr. Michael A'Hearn, from the University of Maryland College
Park, and the team will also include researchers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
in Pasadena, California (JPL) and Ball Aerospace Technology
of Boulder, Colorado to build the spacecraft.

Comet Temple 1 was discovered in 1867. It orbits the sun once in five and a half
years, when it frequently passes through the inner solar system. the thing
makes it a good target to examine the developmental changes in the shell
The comet, which is its upper layer, which is constantly renewed because the layer
The outer one is constantly evaporating and gases rising from the comet's nucleus replace each other
The scientists are interested in examining comets that lose their ice and dust
into space, because then it is very easy to reach their nucleus. They also want to learn
How does the composition of the materials in the comet nucleus differ from those on its surface.
This controlled experiment could allow them to learn that.
NASA's Discovery Program encourages the establishment of inexpensive scientific missions
and focused on specific tasks in the field of space sciences. NASA developed six more
Spaceships in the Discovery series. Three of them have already completed the
Their mission, one is currently running and two others, in addition to Deep Impact, are
in development stages.
In 1997, the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft carried an all-terrain vehicle that landed on Mars
named Sojourner, who landed safely on Mars and brought back hundreds of pictures
and measurements of the Martian environment. The NEAR spacecraft orbited for about a year
The asteroid was engaged and finally made a successful landing on its surface, though
that this was not planned in advance. The operation ended in February 2001
The Lunar Prospector map of the moon maps the moon's composition and its gravitational fields
and ended his successful mission by crash landing on what was suspected to be a field
Ice near the south pole of the moon in July 1999
The Stardust mission launched in February 1999 is on its way to Comet Wild 2
To capture materials from his tail and bring them for testing on Earth, a mission
A Genesis that will collect materials from the solar wind and bring them to Earth is intended
To be launched on July 30, 2001 and the CONTOUR (Comet Nucleus Tour) operation
Will fly near three comets planned for launch in June 2002

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