Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Deep Impact

(click on pic for larger image - image credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech/Univ of Maryland)

I'm still bummed by the loss of the Cosmos 1 solar sail spacecraft two weeks ago, but the exploration of the heavens continues. Very early yesterday morning, in an effort to better understand the structure and composition of those celestial snowballs known as comets (and possibly gain insight into the very formation of our solar system), part of a NASA probe named Deep Impact slammed into comet Tempel 1.

The resulting fireworks display, so appropriate on Independence Day, was witnessed by the probe's flyby craft (which snapped the above photo at the moment of impact) as well as an impressive array of space and ground-based telescopes and instruments (here's a gallery of some of the other mission images). The resulting data will keep scientists busy for some time to come, but initial reaction seems to be one of surpassed expectations. So, props to everyone over at NASA!

On a related note, it seems an Russian astrologer has filed a lawsuit against NASA for destroying "the natural balance of forces in the universe" and is seeking $300 million in damages. Apparently she believes that the comet strike will adversely effect her horoscopes.

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