37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 35 Deep Impact I
Invited, HAD Intro., Wednesday, September 7, 2005, 11:45am-12:45pm, Music Concert Hall

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[35.02] Deep Impact: The Experiment

M. F. A'Hearn (University of Maryland), Deep Impact Team

On 4 July, Deep Impact delivered a 19-GJoule impact to the nucleus of comet Tempel 1. The impactor provided the highest resolution photographs ever of a cometary nucleus showing features a few m in size. The nuclear size was very close to what was predicted from remote sensing data prior to launch, but the axial ratio was smaller than predicted. The topography was unlike that of other comets visited by spacecraft and showed for the first time features that appear to be impact craters a few hundred meters in diameter. The flyby spacecraft observed the cratering event with both visible imaging and near-IR spectroscopy. The solid ejecta were primarily microscopic in size and the crater formation was controlled primarily by gravity, as the team had suggested prior to the encounter. H2O and CO-2 were very hot in the initial ejecta and previously unseen, still unidentified spectral features were seen in the near-IR.

Supported by NASA contract NASW00004 to the University of Maryland.

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