Special Reports

Subaru Telescope Observations of Deep Impact

Science  14 Oct 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5746, pp. 274-278
DOI: 10.1126/science.1119091

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Abstract

The impact cratering process on a comet is controversial but holds the key for interpreting observations of the Deep Impact collision with comet 9P/Tempel 1. Mid-infrared data from the Cooled Mid-Infrared Camera and Spectrometer (COMICS) of the Subaru Telescope indicate that the large-scale dust plume ejected by the impact contained a large mass (∼106 kilograms) of dust and formed two wings approximately ±45° from the symmetric center, both consistent with gravity as the primary control on the impact and its immediate aftermath. The dust distribution in the inner part of the plume, however, is inconsistent with a pure gravity control and implies that evaporation and expansion of volatiles accelerated dust.

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