When Deep Impact crashed into the nucleus of Tempel 1 at 23,000 miles per hour on July 4, it sent a huge, bright cloud of stuff upward and outward from the comet, providing a spectacular image that is already assured a place in the space history books, and may well be seared into the brains of all those who watched the event.
"Our cratering experiment went very very well," reported impact scientist Peter Schultz in what may have been the understatement of the weekend. A first look at early science results from the mission suggest that while some events unfolded according to scientists' predictions, Tempel 1 provided many enticing surprises as well.
Here in Von Karman auditorium at JPL, as they get ready for the press conference, they are playing "Rock Around the Clock," by Bill Haley and His Comets. Very appropriate! The press panel is mostly familiar: Andy Danztler, Rick Grammier, Shyam Bhaskaran, Mike A'Hearn, and Pete Schultz.
I woke this morning to find a press release in my Inbox that said: "One hundred and seventy-one days into its 172-day journey to comet Tempel 1, NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft successfully released its impactor at 11:07 p.m. Saturday, Pacific Daylight Time," or 06:07 UTC.