Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Deep Impact Update: Gettin' Closer...........


Closer, almost there, steady.......steady.......


D.C. Agle
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Dolores Beasley/Erica Hupp
NASA Headquarters, Washington

NEWS RELEASE: 2005-074


Fifty-nine days before going head-to-head with comet Tempel 1, NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft successfully executed the second trajectory correction maneuver of the mission.

The burn further refined the spacecraft's trajectory, or flight path, and also moved forward the expected time of the Independence Day comet encounter so impact would be visible by ground- and space-based observatories.

The 95-second burn - the longest remaining firing of the spacecraft's motors prior to comet encounter -- was executed on May 4. It changed Deep Impact's speed by 18.2 kilometers per hour (11.3 miles per hour).

"Spacecraft performance has been excellent, and this burn was no different," said Rick Grammier, Deep Impact project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "It was a textbook maneuver that placed us right on the money."

Right on the money is where Deep Impact has to be to place a 1-meter-long (39-inch) impactor spacecraft in the path of a comet about as big as the island of Manhattan that is bearing down on it at 37,100 kilometers per hour (6.3 miles per second). At the same time, from a very comet-intimate distance of 500 kilometers (310 miles), a flyby spacecraft will be monitoring the event. This all occurs in the wee hours of July 4 - at 1:52 am Eastern time (July 3, 10:52 p.m. Pacific time) -- at a distance of 133.6-million kilometers (83-million miles) from Earth.

"With this maneuver our friends working the Hubble Space Telescope are assured a ringside seat," said Deep Impact Principal Investigator Dr. Michael A'Hearn of the University of Maryland, College Park. "Their observations, along with space telescopes Chandra and Spitzer and numerous ground-based observatories, will provide us with the most scientific bang for our buck with Deep Impact."

How big would it suck if they missed though, right? I mean, years of development, millions of dollars spent, and you get one shot. Miss it? All that out the window. I sincerely doubt that they will, as the folks at JPL landed on an asteroid back in 2001 with the NEAR Spacecraft, but still.

That would suck, right? Here's to hoping they get this one right though. As an avid asteroid/comet freak, we need to get this one right.

I don't know if you had heard about this, but there is the astrology freak in Russia who is planning to sue NASA for 8.7 Billion rubles for going through with the Deep Impact Mission. Here's the story-

Russian Astrologist Plans to Crash NASA’s Independence Day
Anna Arutunyan

Now, the last thing NASA expected was a lawsuit from Russia.

But Russian astrologist Marina Bai gave it a try, and, according to her lawyer Alexander Molokhov, it looks like she may just pull it off. In a lawsuit she filed last month with the Presnensky district court in Moscow, Bai is demanding that NASA call off its $311 million operation, with the spacecraft already in its cruise phase. She also wants 8.7 billion rubles (the ruble equivalent of the entire cost of the mission) in compensation for moral damages.

"The actions of NASA infringe upon my system of spiritual and life values, in particular on the values of every element of creation, upon the unacceptability of barbarically interfering with the natural life of the universe, and the violation of the natural balance of the Universe," Bai said in her claim.

Bai’s initial lawsuit was dismissed by the Presnensky court, but the Moscow City Court took up the appeal and will rule following a hearing scheduled for May 6. And lawyer Alexander Molokhov is convinced the case will move further.

"I have no doubt that the Moscow City Court will cancel the [previous dismissal]," Molokhov told MosNews.

Indeed, the consequences of destroying a comet may include anything from an asteroid shower to disruption to radio waves.

And people wonder why Russia never made it to the moon.

Wonder no more.

No comments: