Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2005 September 15
Explanation: Approaching the nucleus of comet Tempel 1 at ten kilometres per second, the Deep Impact probe's targeting camera recorded a truly dramatic series of images. Successive pictures improve in resolution and have been composited here at a scale of 5 metres per pixel -- including images taken within a few metres of the surface moments before the July 4th impact. Analyzing the resulting cloud of debris, researchers are directly exploring the makeup of a comet, a primordial chunk of solar system material. Described as a recipe for primordial soup, the list of Tempel 1's ingredients - tiny grains of silicates, iron compounds, complex hydrocarbons, and clay and carbonates thought to require liquid water to form - might be more appropriate for a cosmic souffle, as the nucleus is apparently porous and fluffy. Seen here, Tempel 1's nucleus is about five kilometres long, with the impact site between the two large craters near the bottom.
Authors & editors:
NASA Web Site Statements, Warnings, and Disclaimers
NASA Official: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: EUD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.