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Deep Impact photo Hartley 2

In games on December 9, 2010 at 12:49 pm

In the last hours, NASA Deep Impact spacecraft has approached the comet’s nucleus Hartley 2. After a journey of more than five years of the robot to reached its second objective, revealing details of the comet’s nucleus. This body of 2200 metres in diameter, is composed of 280 million tonnes of a mixture of ice water, carbon dioxide and Silicon dust ice.The mission could provide key data on the formation of the Earth and other planets of the solar system.


Deep Impact/EPOXI spacecraft was released January 12, 2005 with the Mission of studying two comets: 9 p/Tempel 1 and Boethin.The first part of his Odyssey was fulfilled smoothly on July 4 of the same year, and a projectile cash just embedded in Temple 1, opening a 100 meters in diameter crater and lifting a cloud of particles was duly analysed by instruments aboard the robot.However, astronomers did not locate the comet Boethin – possibly have been fragmented into too small pieces to be detectable – so decided change of purpose. New white would comet Hartley 2, discovered by Australian Malcolm Hartley in 1986.

Deep Impact, only about 700 km 2 Hartley (NASA)

Malcolm Hartley, 63, felt “very excited” when he learned that the NASA probe would visit the Comet that found 24 years ago.Hartley had not been notified of this event, and learned to receive a call from a journalist from Science magazine. “This is a very special time, when we detect the comet first I never thought that we could see so close”, commented. In the last hours, Deep Impact has approached the comet to find only some 700 kilometres from its core. This has allowed to take great photos of the body and determine its most important features. Thanks to this mission not only learn the secrets of Hartley 2 but they also learn much about the mechanism involved in the formation of planets in the solar system.


Probe input helped to confirm the size of the nucleus of Hartley 2 – a few 2.2 km long on its axis – and calculate its mass metric 280 million tonnes. It is primarily composed of water ice, ice carbon dioxide and Silicon powder. These materials are quite common in comets – are waste training system solar makes approximately 4.5 billion years – by what many refer to them as “dirty snowballs”. Its small size did not gravitational forces will provide the sphericity got used to see in the majority of celestial bodies, so that their appearance is closer to of a pickle than a soccer ball.Hartley 2 core complete a return on himself every 18 hours.

Its appearance is quite approaching a gherkin (NASA)

The Mission has provided very good resolution images.Aren’t the first with this celestial, body since from Earth is it had photographed before.However, the enormous distance which separates it from our planet and its small size made it very difficult to obtain details of your kernel.”Photograph comet Hartley 2 from Earth is the equivalent for the image of a cucumber 15 centimeters long 836 km away,” explained Jon Giorgini, a member JPL Arecibo which took images of Comet computer scientist.


Deep Impact has been taking photos of Hartley 2 c ada five minutes during the last weeks.The meeting occurs few days once the comet has become “only” 18 million kilometres from Earth, their greater approximation since it was discovered in 1986.Success in the precision with which the meeting produced since the robot had traveled over 5,000 million kilometres, was filled with joy at the NASA team members.You are now expected to arrive images taken with the high resolution camera to begin with the scientific analysis of the data received.Hartley 2 has thus become the fifth visited Earth spacecraft Comet nucleus.

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