Deep Impact on Its Way
This image of the Deep Impact spacecraft was obtained with Caltech's 200-inch Hale telescope on top of Palomar Mountain at 4:00 AM PST (12:00 UT) Thursday January 13, 2005, about 15 hours after the spacecraft's successful launch. Deep Impact was about 260,000 km (163,000 mi) away from the Earth, moving at a speed of about 16,000 km/hour (10,000 mi/hr). This high speed causes the spacecraft to appear as a streak across the sky in the constellation Virgo during the 10-minute exposure time of the image. The spacecraft is visible because it is reflecting light from the sun as it begins its journey towards comet Tempel 1. This image was obtained by Dr. Michael D. Hicks and Dr. Bonnie J. Buratti, both at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The spacecraft will travel to comet Tempel 1 and release an impactor, creating a crater on the surface of the comet. Scientists believe the exposed materials may give clues to the formation of our solar system.
CREDIT: JPL-Caltech/Michael Hicks/Bonnie Buratti
Deep Impact on Its Way II
About an hour earlier, STSP observer Gary Emerson took this picture (presented here as a negative) at his observatory at 4:00 am MST (11:00 UT) on January 13, 2005. It is a 2 minute exposure of the Deep Impact spacecraft (between the vertical lines). The elongation of the image shows the distance traveled during the 2 minute exposure. DI was about 146,183 km from the Earth at the time.
CREDIT: Gary Emerson
Deep Impact on Its Way III
George Observatory Asteroid Discovery Team member Joe Dellinger took a series of images of the Deep Impact spacecraft at about 1:30am CST (07:30 UT) 14 Jan. The animated gif is assembled from thirteen 1-minute guided exposures that are 1.5 minutes apart. Joe started shooting Jan 13-14th (Thursday night - Friday morning) as soon as the Deep Impact spacecraft was high enough to clear the observatory dome slit of the George Observatory 18" East-dome reflector. Having trouble finding the spacecraft? Look at the bright star below center and you'll see a dim point of light moving up and to the right from it.
Joe along with Fort Bend Astronomy Club members Bill Dillon, Dennis Borgman, Barbara Wilson, Tracy Knauss, Cynthia Gustava, and Keith Rivich are also participants in Deep Impact's Small Telescope Science Program as well as regular contributors to the MPC.
Below is the data submitted to the MPC of their observations of Deep Impact:
CON William G. Dillon XXXX, TX 77459, USA
OBS J. Dellinger
MEA W. G. Dillon
TEL 0.46-m f/4.5 Newtonian reflector + CCD
ACK Deep Impact Spacecraft
|DEEPIMPACT||C2005 01 14.31101 13 11 07.79 -04 24 27.9||18.2||R 735|
|DEEPIMPACT||C2005 01 14.31432 13 11 07.23 -04 24 20.4||17.9||R 735|
|DEEPIMPACT||C2005 01 14.31764 13 11 06.65 -04 24 12.3||17.7||R 735|
CREDIT: George Observatory/Joe Dellinger