First Look at Tempel's Chemicals
A picture of Tempel 1(left) taken by Deep Impact's medium-resolution camera is shown next to data of the comet taken by the spacecraft's infrared spectrometer. This instrument breaks apart light like a prism to reveal the "fingerprints," or signatures, of chemicals. Even though the spacecraft was over 10 days away from the comet when these data were acquired, it detected some of the molecules making up the comet's gas and dust envelope, or coma. The signatures of these molecules - including water, hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide - can be seen in the graph, or spectrum.
Deep Impact's impactor spacecraft is scheduled to collide with Tempel 1 at10:52 p.m. Pacific time on July 3 (1:52 a.m. Eastern time, July 4). The mission's flyby spacecraft will use its infrared spectrometer to sample the ejected material, providing the first look at the chemical composition of a comet's nucleus.
These data were acquired from June 20 to 21, 2005. The picture of Tempel 1 was taken by the flyby spacecraft's medium-resolution instrument camera. The infrared spectrometer uses the same telescope as the high-resolution instrument camera.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD
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