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A Cyber-Astronaut's Final Moves
07.04.05
Image of comet Tempel 1

This image shows how Deep Impact's impactor targeted comet Tempel 1 as the spacecraft made its final approach in the early morning hours of July 4, Eastern time. The autonomous navigation system on the probe was designed to make as many as three impactor targeting maneuvers, identified as ITMs in this picture, to correct its course to the comet.

The upper left dot indicates where the probe would have passed the comet's nucleus if no maneuvers were performed. The dot below the nucleus shows where the probe would have flown past the comet if only the first maneuver was made. The leftmost dot on the nucleus marks the spot where the probe would have crunched the comet if only the first two maneuvers had been performed. The lower dot on the nucleus indicates the vicinity where, once the third maneuver was performed, the probe met its final reward and collided with the comet.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD

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