The flight system consists of two spacecraft: the flyby spacecraft and the impactor. Each spacecraft has its own instruments and capabilities to receive and transmit data.
The flyby spacecraft carries the primary imaging instruments (the HRI and MRI) and the impactor (with an ITS) to the vicinity of the comet nucleus.
It releases the impactor, receives impactor data, supports the instruments as they image the impact and resulting crater, and then transmits the science data back to Earth.
Image at Right: This illustration shows the Deep Impact two-part vehicle consisting of a flyby spacecraft and the impactor. Image credit: NASA
The impactor guides itself to hit the comet nucleus on the sunlit side. The energy from the impact will excavate a crater approximately 100m wide and 28m deep.
The instruments help guide both spacecrafts and then acquire the science data that will be analyzed by the science team.
The Boeing Delta II Launch Vehicle
Before the flight system can get to the comet, it has to be delivered into space.
The Deep Impact mission will be launched aboard a Boeing Delta II 2925 rocket with the dual spacecraft tucked within the Delta's fairing.
Image at Left: This illustration shows components of the Boeing Delta II launch vehicle that will carry the Deep Impact Spacecraft on its mission. Image credit: The Boeing Company
The Delta II launch vehicles are descended from the Delta rockets that have been in use since the 1960s. They have carried aloft a number of NASA spacecraft like Deep Space 1, NEAR, Mars Climate Orbiter, Mars Polar Lander, STARDUST, FUSE, IMAGE and EO-1/SAC-C into space.