National Aeronautics and Space Administration University of Maryland Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology Credits & Awards Contact Us Privacy Statement
spacer image
spacer
UMD ASTRONOMY spacer STUDENT INFO spacer UMD OBSERVATORY spacer PDS-SBN spacer BIMA
spacer
Deep Impact
Deep Impact
Home Search Sitemap Frequently Asked Questions Contact Us spacer
Deep Impact Mission Science Technology Mission Results Gallery Education Discovery Zone Your Community Press Gallery - Artwork & Exhibits

Tempel 1's Place in the Solar System

Tempel 1's Place in the Outer Solar System
Hi-Res GIF (29 KB)

From a vantage point outside of Pluto's orbit and slightly above the solar system, one would have difficulty seeing the orbits of the inner planets. The orbit of Jupiter (red circle) even looks small from out here, but remember, it takes Jupiter about 12 years to go around the sun once! Just inside the orbit of Jupiter is a blueish ellipse. That is the orbit of Tempel 1.

Tempel 1's Place in the Inner Solar System
Hi-Res GIF (26 KB)

As we zoom into position somewhere in the asteroid belt we see the orbits of the inner planets. The green grid represents the plane of the earth's orbit and all of the other planets and objects in the solar system have orbits that are slightly inclined to that plane. Mercury, Venus and Mars are inclined very slightly, but Tempel 1's orbit is clearly not in the same plane. The comet comes closest to the sun (its perihelion point) just inside the orbit of Mars (peach-colored orbit). The comet's farpoint (aphelion) is out near the orbit of Jupiter. Tempel 1's orbit does not cross the Earth's and as you can see is actually quite far away from us! The planets positions are marked for July 2005.

CREDIT: Charts generated by Gregorio Drayer.

 

redbar-bottom
spacer
spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer
spacer FirstGov - Your First Click to the U.S. Government   NASA Home Page spacer
Web Curator: Maura Rountree-Brown
Webmaster: Elizabeth Warner
Last Updated: Thursday January 22, 2009
Clearance No. CL 01-0944
spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer