Kids Feature

Paper Comet Model
Drawing of a straw with a paper wad on top and streamers out to the side

You can make a comet like this! Credit: NASA

The Deep Impact mission is going to a comet. A small spacecraft is going to Comet Tempel 1. The spacecraft will make a small crater. Another spacecraft will take pictures. We hope to find out what is inside the comet.

You can make your own model of a comet using things you have at home.

What you need:
  • One sheet of paper
  • Two long strips of shiny filler for gift bags
  • One 2-inch strip of tape
  • One drinking straw (not a bendy straw)
  • Blow dryer
  • One marker
  • Scissors
  • Adult helper

Here's what you do: Drawing of a piece of paper with dashed lines from each corner of the paper toward the center

Cut your piece of paper like this. Credit: NASA

  1. Cut slits in the paper from each corner leaving a space in the middle (like the drawing).
  2. Lay the strips across the paper over the slits to make an "X."
  3. Put a piece of tape across the "X" to hold the strips on to the paper.
  4. Crumple the paper into a comet shape. Make sure that your strips stay on the outside.
  5. Use the scissors to poke a hole through the comet.
  6. Push the straw into the hole.
  7. Hold the comet by the straw.
  8. Use a hairdryer to show how the Sun's energy makes parts of the comet blow off to a tail. (Let the adult plug the dryer into the socket.)
  9. Here is something you can do with a friend. He or she can be the Sun. Walk around the Sun holding the comet. The Sun's energy should blow on your comet as you walk.
  10. See how the tail moves as you get closer to the Sun.
Adapted from Paper Comet Model with a Deep Impact