July 5, 2005Images released by NASA show comet Tempel 1 before and after yesterday's collision between the comet and a washing machine-size impactor placed in its path by scientists. The images on top were made by the probe as the comet approached it at 6.3 miles (10 kilometers) per second. Images on the bottom showing the comet after the crash were made by the Deep Impact mother ship several thousand miles out of harm's way.
"You cannot help but get a big flash when objects meet at 23,000 miles per hour," said Deep Impact co-investigator Pete Schultz of Brown University, Rhode Island. He was one of many scientists celebrating yesterday's hyper-speed crash.
The objective was to create a cloud of dust and ice that could be studied by spectrometers and cameras to determine what comets are made of. The experimentlikened to shooting a bullet with another bulletcould also be useful in case it is ever necessary to try to deflect a giant rock hurtling toward Earth.
Watch a National Geographic News video news report on Deep Impact (requires Windows Media Player).