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Craft Blasts Off on Collision Course with Comet

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Craft Blasts Off on Collision Course with Comet

Space

Craft Blasts Off on Collision Course with Comet

Craft Blasts Off on Collision Course with Comet

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4281278/4281436" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

An artist's rendering depicts the moment of impact and the forming of the crater on Comet Tempel 1. Pat Rawlings /NASA hide caption

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Pat Rawlings /NASA

NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft set off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., Wednesday on a 268-million-mile collision course with a comet. If all goes as planned, the craft will crash into Comet Tempel 1 on July 4, creating a massive crater and releasing particles that could provide a glimpse into the origins of the solar system.

Deep Impact is actually a two-part spacecraft: a mother ship and an impactor that will break free shortly before the day of impact. A camera onboard the impactor will capture the crash and film the dust released once the comet's surface is penetrated.

Mission Animations

Watch a NASA animation of what Deep Impact's collision with the comet is expected to look like from the point of view of the high-resolution camera onboard:

Watch a NASA animation charting Deep Impact's journey to, and encounter with, Comet Tempel 1:

* Note: Links go directly to NASA's site. Quicktime required.

NPR's Melissa Block discusses the mission with Dr. Donald Yeomans of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.