Five things about NASA's EPOXI mission

October 25, 2010
This artist's concept shows us the first time Deep Impact encountered a comet - Tempel 1 in July 2005. Deep Impact, now in an extended mission called EPOXI, will fly by its next comet, Hartley 2, on Nov. 4, 2010. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD

(PhysOrg.com) -- Here are five quick facts about the EPOXI mission, scheduled to fly by comet Hartley 2 on Nov. 4, 2010.

1. High Fives - This is the fifth time humans will see a close-up, and the Deep Impact spacecraft flew by Earth for its fifth time on Sunday, June 27, 2010.

2. Eco-friendly Spacecraft: Recycle, Reuse, Record - The EPOXI mission is recycling the Deep Impact spacecraft, whose probe intentionally collided with on July 4, 2005, revealing, for the first time, the inner material of a comet. The spacecraft is now approaching a second comet rendezvous, a close encounter with Hartley 2 on Nov. 4. The spacecraft is reusing the same trio of instruments used during Deep Impact: two telescopes with digital imagers to record the encounter, and an .

3. Small, Mighty and Square-Dancing in Space - Although comet Hartley 2 is smaller than Tempel 1, the previous comet visited by Deep Impact, it is much more active. In fact, amateur skywatchers may be able to see Hartley 2 in a dark sky with binoculars or a small telescope. Engineers specifically designed the mighty to point a camera at Tempel 1 while its antenna was directed at Earth. This flyby of comet Hartley 2 does not provide the same luxury. It cannot both photograph the comet and talk with mission controllers on Earth. Engineers have instead programmed Deep Impact to dance the do-si-do. The spacecraft will spend the week leading up to closest approach swinging back and forth between imaging the comet and beaming images back to Earth.

4. Storytelling Comets - Comets are an important aspect of studying how the solar system formed and Earth evolved. Comets are leftover building blocks of solar system formation, and are believed to have seeded an with water and . The more we know about these celestial bodies, the more we can learn about Earth and the solar system.

5. What's in a Name? - EPOXI is a hybrid acronym binding two science investigations: the Extrasolar Planet Observation and Characterization (EPOCh) and Deep Impact eXtended Investigation (DIXI). The spacecraft keeps its original name of , while the mission is called EPOXI.

Explore further: Epoxi Spacecraft Burns for Home, Then Comet

Related Stories

NASA's EPOXI mission sets up for comet flyby

September 30, 2010

Earlier yesterday, navigators and mission controllers for NASA's EPOXI mission watched their computer screens as 23.6 million kilometers (14.7 million miles) away, their spacecraft successfully performed its 20th trajectory ...

NASA mission 'E-Minus' one month to comet flyby

October 5, 2010

Fans of space exploration are familiar with the term T-minus, which NASA uses as a countdown to a rocket launch. But what of those noteworthy mission events where you already have a spacecraft in space, as with the upcoming ...

Recommended for you

At Saturn, one of these rings is not like the others

September 2, 2015

When the sun set on Saturn's rings in August 2009, scientists on NASA's Cassini mission were watching closely. It was the equinox—one of two times in the Saturnian year when the sun illuminates the planet's enormous ring ...

New Horizons team selects potential Kuiper Belt flyby target

August 29, 2015

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits ...

Prawn Nebula: Cosmic recycling

September 2, 2015

Dominating this image is part of the nebula Gum 56, illuminated by the hot bright young stars that were born within it. For millions of years stars have been created out of the gas in this nebula, material which is later ...

Image: Hubble sees a youthful cluster

August 31, 2015

Shown here in a new image taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) on board the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is the globular cluster NGC 1783. This is one of the biggest globular clusters in the Large Magellanic ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.