Comets: The Deep Impact Mission
Our class notes (pg 10. 5) taught me a lot about comets. I wanted to find out more about their study and particularly about the Deep Impact mission. Moreover, I noticed a news article saying that a new comet outburst has been captured. It made me extremely interested in the subject, and I decided to expand my knowledge even further.
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My research started by examining the largest digital library in the world – Google Books. I used the “Deep Impact Mission” search term and obtained 97,300 results. I decided to choose the book “Comets And Their Origin: The Tools To Decipher A Comet” written by Uwe Meierhenrich. He is a Professor at the University Nice Sophia Antipolis, France, and has a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry. My further research revealed that the scientist has helped to lay the groundwork for the Rosetta-Mission. Moreover, Dr. Uwe Meierhenrich has a diploma in Analytical Chemistry. He is also an author of more than two dozen publications in peer-reviewed journals. Therefore, the information provided in the book was reliable.
I needed an additional source, so I typed “Comets” into the search engine “Google.” It provided me with more than ten million results. I opted for the most credible source on the issue—the Nasa website. The “About Us” section of the site stated that it was managed by the Solar System Science Communication Team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Therefore, I concluded that all information provided there came from a strictly regulated governmental organization and was highly reliable.
The information discussed in the class provided me with a basic understanding of comets. However, the exploration of the Nasa website made me discover that there is a great number of short-period comets orbiting the sun near Pluto. They could be pulled by gravity into the planet’s orbit by less than two hundred years. It makes it very easy to calculate the time of their appearance. The arrival of the long-period comets, on the other hand, is less predictable. They can orbit the Sun for 30 million years.
Every comet has a frozen part containing ice and particles of dust inside of it. When a comet gets closer to the Sun, its heat starts melting its nucleus and creates an atmosphere around that is called a coma. Space missions such as Stardust and Deep Impact allowed scientists to better explore the structure of comets.
The Deep Impact mission allowed obtaining detailed information on Comet 9P/Tempel. It was conducted in July 2005 and resulted in the analysis of the interior composition of the comet’s nucleus. The data was collected with the help of the impactor and flyby spacecraft. The impactor made a planned collision with the nucleus of 9P/Tempel that led to the release of significant amounts of comet material. It was concentrated beneath its surface. The flyby spacecraft was able to gather information with a spectrometer and two cameras. The excavation of the comet’s material expanded the existing understanding of the cometary structure.
According to the NASA site, the Deep Impact spacecraft was functional after its initial mission and was used for other flybys. Therefore, in November 2010, it was retargeted for the Deep Impact Extended Investigation (DIXI). The mission explored comet Hartley 2. It was also a part of the search for Earth-size planets in the vicinity of stars close to it.
CNRS. Prof. Dr. Uwe J. Meierhenrich. 2016. Web.
Meierhenrich, Uwe. Comets and Their Origin. Hoboken: Wiley, 2014. Print.
NASA. About Us. n.d. Web.