Team attempts to restore communications with Deep Impact spacecraft

Sep 11, 2013
Artist's concept of NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Ground controllers have been unable to communicate with NASA's long-lived Deep Impact spacecraft. Last communication with the spacecraft was on Aug. 8, 2013. Deep Impact mission controllers will continue to uplink commands in an attempt to reestablish communications with the spacecraft.

Mission controllers postulate that there was an anomaly generated by the spacecraft's software which left the vehicle's computers in a condition where they are continuously rebooting themselves. If this is the case, the computers would not continue to command the vehicle's thrusters to fire and hold attitude. Lack of attitude hold makes attempts to reestablish communications more difficult because the orientation of the spacecraft's antennas is unknown. It also brings into question the vehicle's electrical power status, as the spacecraft derives its power from a that is fixed, with its cells pointing in one direction.

Deep Impact is history's most traveled deep-space comet hunter. It successfully completed its original mission and a subsequent extended mission.

Launched in January 2005, the spacecraft traveled about 268 million miles (431 million kilometers) to the vicinity of comet Tempel 1. On July 3, 2005, the spacecraft deployed an impactor, which was essentially "run over" by the nucleus of Tempel 1 on July 4. Sixteen days after the , the Deep Impact team placed the spacecraft on a trajectory to fly past Earth in late December 2007. The extended mission of the Deep Impact spacecraft culminated in the successful flyby of comet Hartley 2 on Nov. 4, 2010. In January of 2012, the spacecraft performed, from a distance, an imaging campaign of comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd), and in 2013, an imaging campaign of comet ISON.

To date, Deep Impact has traveled about 4.7 billion miles (7.58 billion kilometers) in space.

Explore further: Astronauts to reveal sobering data on asteroid impacts

More information: solarsystem.nasa.gov/deepimpact

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Deep Impact spacecraft completes rocket burn

Oct 05, 2012

(Phys.org)—NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft completed a firing of its onboard rocket motors earlier today. The maneuver began at 1 p.m. PDT (4 p.m. EDT), lasted 71 seconds, and changed its velocity by 4.5 ...

NASA prepares for EPOXI mission comet flyby

Oct 28, 2010

In one of its final mission trajectory correction maneuvers, the EPOXI mission spacecraft has refined its orbit, preparing it for the flyby of comet Hartley 2 on Nov. 4. The time of closest approach to the ...

NASA spacecraft on final approach toward comet

Nov 02, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The EPOXI mission spacecraft has refined its path toward a Nov. 4 flyby of comet Hartley 2, successfully performing its final maneuver today at 8 a.m. PDT (11 a.m. EDT). The spacecraft burned ...

NASA spacecraft burns for another comet flyby

Nov 23, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Eighty-six days out from its appointment with a comet, NASA's Stardust spacecraft fired its thrusters to help refine its flight path. The Stardust-NExT mission will fly past comet Tempel 1 ...

NASA's EPOXI mission sets up for comet flyby

Sep 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 ...

Recommended for you

Astronauts to reveal sobering data on asteroid impacts

8 hours ago

This Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, three former NASA astronauts will present new evidence that our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… ...

Rosetta instrument commissioning continues

8 hours ago

We're now in week four of six dedicated to commissioning Rosetta's science instruments after the long hibernation period, with the majority now having completed at least a first initial switch on.

Astronaut salary

9 hours ago

Talk about a high-flying career! Being a government astronaut means you have the chance to go into space and take part in some neat projects—such as going on spacewalks, moving robotic arms and doing science ...

Red moon at night; stargazer's delight

Apr 16, 2014

Monday night's lunar eclipse proved just as delightful as expected to those able to view it. On the East Coast, cloudy skies may have gotten in the way, but at the National Science Foundation's National Optical ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Hubble image: A cross-section of the universe

An image of a galaxy cluster taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope gives a remarkable cross-section of the Universe, showing objects at different distances and stages in cosmic history. They range ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...