Feeds

We used to be afraid of comets, now it's their turn

What's a little hyperbole between friends?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Just before seven o'clock on Monday morning next week, a 360kg lump of copper will smash into comet Tempel-1, in a collision that should answer many of the questions scientists have about the precise nature of comets.

Some of the first images of the collision will be captured by the UK-operated optical telescopes on Hawaii: UK school kids will be involved in the initial processing and analysis of these images, along with some of their counterparts on the Hawaiian islands.

NASA will be gathering data using telescopes on the islands as well, but their interest is in the spectroscopy. Although this is ultimately more interesting for scientists, Roche argues that to grab the public's interest, visual snaps are needed.

Deep Impact will send pictures back to Earth as well, but the fly-by section of the craft will have to shut down for an hour or so, just 800 seconds after impact, as it will be passing so close to the comet that its instruments will be at risk from the dust and gas.

"This is why the ground-based observation is going to be so important," Roche says. "We are hoping to get the before, during, and after pictures so we can put together an animation of the collision event."

Eager comet watchers should not get too excited, however. The early pictures are not likely to reveal much scientific data. "It looks like a fuzzy blob at the moment. Once deep impact hits, it will be a bigger fuzzy blob," Roche concedes.

However, UK scientists will be involved in spectroscopic analysis from two hours after the impact when the telescopes in Australia come online. At this point, the interesting question is what happens to the water vapour that will be released by the impact.

After another 13 hours, telescopes in La Palma will be in darkness, and will join the analysis of the impact's aftermath. They will watch the material expelled from the comet get blown into the comet's tail. The tail effectivey becomes a windsock for measuring the speed of the solar wind.

After two-and-a-half days, the Earth will be in a position to see the same area of space again. Taking new observations should give an indication of the behaviour of the solar wind in that particular area of the solar system.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.