From Jars to the Stars

The Deep Impact Legacy Site’s video and animation page has everything from artist’s-concept animations to images and videos capturered by the Deep Impact spacecraft. It’s a smorgasboard, great for browsing, clicking and being surprised. But among the gems include:

  1. An animation, “Road to Tempel 1,” depicting the the Deep Impact encounter. Iit’s particularly helpful in visualizing the scale of the deep-space mission as well as how the speedier comet actually ran over the impactor spacecraft, as opposed to being struck by the impactor.
  2. A 3-D model of Deep Impact one can rotate about, with explanation of the spacecraft’s various parts.
  3. An animation of the poetic lookback imagery taken by the surviving flyby spacecraft after the comet had passed.
  4. A sort of vintage animation of Deep Impact as it appeared in the 1998 concept study encountering Tempel 1. Complete with one-year orbit around the sun.
  5. Rehearsing the encounter“, filmed at JPL during one of the operational readiness tests prior to the actual encounter. Gives a sense of the tenuousness of the entire endeavor. Keep in mind that none of these folks was getting enough sleep.
  6. Digging out the science,” with Don Yeomans and Mike A’Hearn, who explain some of the key things the science team sought to understand about comets through Deep Impact. Includes A’Hearn’s equating the impactor’s copper mass is equivalent to 45,000 pennies (450 bucks in pennies! Though pennies are mostly zinc anymore). There’s also a flash Web site that gives a nice overview of various science actually culled from the mission, and there’s a bit more imagery on the “science results” page. The truly brave might check out the raw output from the Deep Impact imagers during the Tempel 1 encounter.
  7. Scientist Pete Schultz’s work at the NASA Ames Vertical Gun Range is also worth a look. The perlite shot turned out to be a good proxy for the real impact.
  8. The 2005 Von Karman lecture at JPL, in which one of the world’s foremost authority on comets, Deep Impact science team member and JPL scientist Don Yeomans, explains the culture history and science behind the frozen wanderers.

The Deep Impact legacy site also has good bios of several team members, some of whom I write about in “From Jars to the Stars” and others — as is the case for the vast majority of the Deep Impact team — remain anonymous. The book has many characters, but they still represent a small minority of the vast team contributing to Deep Impact’s success. The technologyscience and mission results pages also hold a wealth of background, too.

Also, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center has a page with dozens of photos and videos related to the Deep Impact launch. You’ll need Real Player to view it. Among my favorites are the animation of the Deep Impact encounter and the videos of launch and the jetissoning of the solid-rocket boosters.

A few embedded YouTube videos:



An animation of the post-launch separation and de-spin as envisioned (but which didn’t quite happen as planned):


An animation, with commentary by Keyur Patel and Don Yeomans — in French!


The Deep Impact spacecraft’s view of the approaching comet:


Impact as viewed by the flybyspacecraft’s Medium Resolution Instrument:


Where the Deep Impact spacecraft traveled from January 2005 to November 4, 2010:


Related Missions

EPOXi | Contour | Deep Space 1 | Stardust | Stardust-NeXT |
James Webb Space Telescope | Hubble Space Telescope

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