Feeds

Comet Tempel-1 covered in cosmic talc

Dusty

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

The first data from the Deep Impact mission to Comet Tempel-1 suggest that the comet is covered in a layer of fine powder. When the probe slammed into the comet on 4 July, the impact released an immense cloud of dust, probably as fine as talcum powder, NASA says, leaving a crater between 50 and 250 metres in diameter.

When the impactor hit the comet, it hit at a 25 degree angle to the comet's surface, NASA says. Almost immediately it was vaporised and along with surface and sub-surface material from the comet was ejected back away from the wandering Tempel-1.

The plume of material expanded above the impact site at around 3.1 miles per second. Deep Impact Principal Investigator Dr. Michael A'Hearn of the University of Maryland explains that the opacity and amount of light reflected by the plume are clues to the size of the dust particles.

"[It] suggests the dust excavated from the comet's surface was extremely fine, more like talcum powder than beach sand. And the surface is definitely not what most people think of when they think of comets - an ice cube," he added.

On its way to the surface, the Deep Impact impactor was hit by two coma particles, which knocked the cameras out of alignment for a short period before the craft's attitude control got it back on track.

The research team is currently analysing over 4,500 images taken by the Deep Impact flyby craft and the impactor itself. The images reveal features on the surface of the comet that are only four metres in diameter. This is a factor of ten better than any previous observations of comets, A'Hearn says. ®

Related stories

Astrologer sues NASA for Tempel 1 'moral trauma'
Deep Impact makes an impression on Tempel-1
Deep Impact en route to Tempel 1

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.