The Deep Impactor is safely on its way!
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla
03-07-2005 8:49 CDT
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. This is one of those kinds of mission events that should happen with little or no fanfare. They should be routine by now. But, as we were shown a couple of weeks ago, you can't take routine things like pyros firing on spacecraft -- or Russian ICBM launches -- for granted. Lucky for the Deep Impact team, the separation apparently went smoothly and right on time.
The impactor has already returned some images to Earth. Here's the first one I came across:
I think it's safe to assume that the blob in the upper right quadrant is the comet. I am not sure why the image has four quadrants; several of the images appear to look like that. I'll try to get an explanation when I go to JPL later this morning.