Sounds of Stardust, and a cool morphed Tempel 1 video
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla
18-02-2011 13:26 CST
Here's two more items from Tuesday's flyby of comet Tempel 1 by the Stardust spacecraft to add to my previous roundup of Tempel 1 data. The first represents data from a dust counting instrument, portrayed as sound:
I asked co-investigator Don Brownlee several questions about the sounds audible in this clip, and he got back to me very quickly to explain that the few seconds of sound represent real-time data. There are three long and one short bursts of sound; he said that this burst character is real. That means Stardust didn't encounter a continuous snow of dust, but rather a clumpy distribution. I asked about the instrument used to gather the data, and Brownlee explained that "The data is from the PVDF [polyvinylidene fluoride] sensors on the Dust Flux Monitor Instrument. PVDF is a remarkable internally polarized plastic film that produces voltage pulses when penetrated or even dinged. The same film was also flown on the Soviet Halley missions Vega 1 and Vega 2." He provided a link to a dissertation by David James on PVDF dust detectors.
The other item is a terrific morph animation of the flyby produced by Daniel Macháček. He's colorized the animation using a brown color taken from Deep Impact's Tempel 1 images. The apparent shifting of color through the animation has to do with the automatic contrast enhancement applied to the images before they were posted to the Web; a movie made from actual spacecraft data wouldn't shift in color the same way.
I've watched the video over and over and I think what surprises me most is how flat the surface of Tempel 1 appears to be in the region where Deep Impact hit it. In fact, the whole thing appears faceted rather than rounded. Also, I continue to wonder what is up with that thing that looks just like a cinder cone on the right-hand side of the limb in the approach phase of the images.
Other related posts:
Fifteen years ago, Society members and passionate space advocates like you helped save the Pluto mission. Now we can do the same for missions to Europa and Mars.
Join over 27,600 people who have completed their petition and consider a donation to support advocacy efforts.