37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 38 Deep Impact II
Invited, Wednesday, September 7, 2005, 2:15-4:00pm, Music Concert Hall

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[38.07] Earth-Based Overview for Deep Impact

K. J. Meech (IFA), M. F. A'Hearn (Univ. MD), Deep Impact Science Team

Prior to the selection of the comet 9P/Tempel 1 as the Deep Impact mission target, the comet was not well-observed. From 1999 up to encounter (July 4, 2005) and beyond there was an intensive world-wide observing campaign designed to obtain mission critical information about the target nucleus, including nucleus size, albedo, rotation rate, rotation state, phase function and the development of a dust and gas coma. The Deep Impact mission is unique in that it relies on an Earth-based (ground and orbital) suite of complementary observations of the comet just prior to impact and in the weeks following the impact as the activity develops and diminishes. The Deep Impact coordination was the largest coordinated astronomical program to date, involving over 80 professional observatories spread world-wide, and a large suite of Earth-orbital satellites. We will summarize the pre-encounter observing plan and results, as well as the strategy for the world coordination at encounter and highlights of the Earth-based results. Earth based observers have built up a comprehensive picture of the impact which showed a gradual brightening of the comet as the dust was excavated from the crater, followed by a gradual decline to pre-impact brightness several days later. There was not a large activation of cometary activity as a result of the impact as seen from Earth.

Support for this work was provided through University of Maryland and University of Hawaii subcontract Z667702, which was awarded under prime contract NASW-00004 from NASA.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.