This computer-generated drawing shows from left to right, Comet Tempel 1, the Deep Impact impactor and the flyby spacecraft.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA

Deep Impact Mission

NASA chose Deep Impact to be part of a special series called the Discovery Program on July 7, 1999. In May 2001, Deep Impact was given the "go" from NASA to start with mission development. Deep Impact already has a preliminary launch date of January 6, 2004.

The Deep Impact mission is simple; blast a hole in Comet Tempel 1 that is the size of a football field and is 7 stories deep! Deep Impact will consist of large spacecraft and an impactor. The 770 pound impactor will be released from the flyby spacecraft. Moving at speeds up to 22,300 MPH, the copper impactor will collide with the comet on July 4, 2005. Scientists can then study the core of the comet, the surface of the comet and the material that is blasted off of the comet from impact.

Ball Aerospace will build the spacecraft. Dr. Michael A'Hearn, at the University of Maryland, is the P.I. of the project and will lead the team of scientists and mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory who will run the project. The cost of this mission is estimated at $279 million.

"Deep Impact presents a special chance to do some truly unique science, and it is a direct complement to the other two comet missions already in the Discovery Program," said Dr. Weiler. These two missions are called Stardust and Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR). Stardust will gather comet dust and bring it back to Earth, while CONTOUR will fly by three different comets. The Discovery program specializes in low-cost, scientific projects. There are currently six projects in the Discovery Program. Three of them have already completed their primary missions. Lunar Prospector has successfully mapped the Moon's composition and gravity field, Mars Pathfinder landed on the Red Planet and NEAR orbited Eros for a year ending with a successful landing in February 2001. Along with the Stardust and CONTOUR missions already mentioned, Genesis is the 6th Discovery program mission.

A similar project that would have landed a probe on Tempel 1 was scrapped by NASA because of a lack of funding.

Last modified July 16, 2001 by Jennifer Bergman.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games section of our online store includes a climate change card game and the Traveling Nitrogen game!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

An Overview of the Mars Pathfinder Mission

The Mars Pathfinder (MPF) mission was sent to investigate the geology of Mars. Its principal objective was to analyze the rocks and soil of Mars. The MPF consisted of 2 components, a lander and a mobile...more

Comet Probe Mission is Scrapped

A mission that would have sent a probe to comet Tempel 1 has been postponed indefinitely. This mission, the first of it's kind, would have landed on the comet in 2005. Unfortunately, other projects have...more

Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was one of the most important exploration tools of the past two decades, and will continue to serve as a great resource well into the new millennium. The HST is credited...more

Apollo 11

Driven by a recent surge in space research, the Apollo program hoped to add to the accomplishments of the Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor missions of the late 1960's. Apollo 11 was the first mission to succeed...more

Apollo 12

Apollo 12 survived a lightning strike during its launch on Nov. 14, 1969, and arrived at the Moon three days later. Astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean descended to the surface, while Richard Gordon...more

Apollo 15

Apollo 15 marked the start of a new series of missions from the Apollo space program, each capable of exploring more lunar terrain than ever before. Launched on July 26, 1971, Apollo 15 reached the Moon...more

Deep Impact Mission

NASA chose Deep Impact to be part of a special series called the Discovery Program on July 7, 1999. In May 2001, Deep Impact was given the "go" from NASA to start with mission development. Deep Impact...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA