Deep Impact: Weather Briefing
Of course, we can't launch without good weather! Delta weather officer Joel Tumbiolo is here to tell us what's in store. Welcome, Joel.
Hello, Tiffany. Thank you for having me.
Summertime weather patterns in Florida can make launching difficult. Is it better to launch in the wintertime versus the summertime?
Yes, very much so. During the summer time, obviously, Florida is dominated by daily thunderstorms, which always makes it difficult to launch, especially during the middle of the afternoon. But wintertime, things are a little bit different. We don't have the daily thunderstorms to worry about, and our main weather concern are cold fronts that move through Florida, and on average during the wintertime they move through the state every four or five days. So, if we're launching during the time where there's no cold front, which our odds are much better, it makes things much easier to launch. And with the cold front, our main concern are the clouds and rain, and winds associated with it, but again, it's much easier during the wintertime than the summertime.
I guess the important question to ask now is, how is weather looking for launch day?
Weather's looking very good. Actually, for the last couple of weeks, we've been under a very good weather pattern. During the Christmas holiday, we had a lot of rain, but ever since then we've been pretty much dominated by a high pressure, and we've been above normal temperatures and sunny conditions, and we expect that to remain over the next two or three days. I just mentioned a cold front; our next cold front is scheduled to come through the state on Friday, so Friday's weather doesn't look too good. But for Wednesday and Thursday, we're looking very good conditions. There's a 90 percent chance of having good weather on Wednesday, with the only concern being a couple showers that may be over the ocean that may encroach the launch site. And the same condition would be hold for Thursday, there's an 80 percent chance of good weather on Thursday, as we'll have a few more clouds and a couple more showers, and a little bit more wind again as that cold front approaches us. Friday and beyond, unfortunately, the weather takes a serious downturn. Friday, the cold front comes through, a bunch of clouds, rain, and Saturday it's going to be cloudy and windy. So, hopefully we won't need to go into the weekend, but again, for Wednesday and Thursday, weather looks very, very good.
Thank you, Joel. Here's wishing you good weather on launch day.
Thank you very much.
Before we look ahead to the Deep Impact launch with Launch Manager Omar Baez, let's take a quick look back at the spacecraft's arrival in Florida just a few months ago.
The Deep Impact spacecraft took the first step toward its journey to comet Tempel 1 when it arrived in Florida in October. It was shipped by truck from Ball Aerospace and Technologies in Boulder, Colo., to the Astrotech Space Operations Facility near the Kennedy Space Center. After removal from the container, the spacecraft was carefully moved to a work stand for post-shipping checkout. With the spacecraft secured, technicians attached large, protective covers to its solar arrays, which were then locked to the open position. A series of mission-readiness tests will follow the loading of updated flight software. The spacecraft is scheduled for a launch aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. On July 4, 2005, when it's 83 million miles from Earth, Deep Impact will fire an 820-pound copper projectile that will collide with the comet's surface at a speed of 23,000 miles per hour. The force will produce a crater that could be up to as large as a football field. Deep Impact will collect data and pictures from the impact, sending them back to Earth through the antennas of the deep space network. By studying the results, astronomers hope to discover whether comets exhaust their supply of gas and dust into space or seal it inside. They would also like to learn more about the structure of a comet's interior.