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K. J. Meech, Y. R. Fernandez, J. Pittichova, J. M. Bauer, H. Hsieh (IfA), M. J. S. Belton (Belton Space Init.), M. F. A'Hearn (U. MD), O. R. Hainaut, H. Boehnhardt (ESO), G. P. Tozzi (Oss. Astrofis. Arcetri)
Comet 9P/Tempel 1 is the target of the 8th NASA Discovery Mission, Deep Impact. The focus of the ground-based observing program to date has been to characterize the nucleus for mission planning, and as a baseline for the mission. We have obtained data over nearly a full apparition from 11/97 through the present (aphelion: 4/97, 10/02) on a total of over 200 nights using 16 telescopes worldwide. The nearly 2000 images represent over 250 hours of integration. We will present the heliocentric light curve, and Afrho values as a function of time, and report on the status of the analysis of the rotation period and nucleus size determinations. We will report on the color of the nucleus and dust coma (using BVRI filters) as a function of heliocentric distance. We will also present a series of enhanced images to search for evidence of features (e.g. jets and other structures) in the dust coma.
Support for this work was provided by NASA Grants NAGW-4495, NAGW-5015, NAG-54080, and NAG-59006 and through Univ. of MD subcontract Z667702 which was awarded under prime contract NASW-00004 from NASA.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #3< br> © 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.