Special Research Articles

Deep Impact: Excavating Comet Tempel 1

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Science  14 Oct 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5746, pp. 258-264
DOI: 10.1126/science.1118923

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Deep Impact collided with comet Tempel 1, excavating a crater controlled by gravity. The comet's outer layer is composed of 1- to 100-micrometer fine particles with negligible strength (<65 pascals). Local gravitational field and average nucleus density (600 kilograms per cubic meter) are estimated from ejecta fallback. Initial ejecta were hot (>1000 kelvins). A large increase in organic material occurred during and after the event, with smaller changes in carbon dioxide relative to water. On approach, the spacecraft observed frequent natural outbursts, a mean radius of 3.0 ± 0.1 kilometers, smooth and rough terrain, scarps, and impact craters. A thermal map indicates a surface in equilibrium with sunlight.

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