NASA's Deep Impact 'comet-chaser' spacecraft unexpectedly falls silent
The space agency declared an end to the Deep Impact put on a celestial fireworks display July 4, 2005, when it fired a projectile into comet Tempel 1. The high-speed impact carved a crater and hurled a plume of debris into space, giving scientists their first glimpse of the comet's frozen primordial ingredients.
Afterward, Deep Impact journeyed toward comet Hartley 2, flying through a blizzard of ice particles and escaping unharmed. It later flew by the distant comet Garradd and also observed stars in search of Earth-size planets outside the solar system.
Before Deep Impact lost contact last month, it was studying another comet named Ison that could shine as bright as the moon when it makes a close swing by Earth in November.
The cause of the failure was unknown, but engineers suspect the spacecraft lost control, causing its antenna and solar panels to point in the wrong direction. Without power flowing to its onboard computer, Deep Impact likely froze to death.
Deep Impact's comet adventures have changed scientists' views of comets, irregular bodies of ice and dust that orbit the sun and are leftovers from the formation of the solar system. Once thought to be similar, scientists said comets are more varied than initially realized. Comet Tempel 1, for example, turned out to be fluffier than scientists imagined.
Sources and more information:
TESS BROOKS NASA have ended their search for spacecraft Deep Impact after losing contact with the vessel last month. Contact was lost on 8 August and mission controllers spent several weeks attempting, to no avail, to reactivate the probe's onboard system. NASA spacecraft and Temple 1 Photo via flickr - dcimput Deep Impact was first launched in...
( via spokesman.com )
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