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Launch of Deep Impact!
A Boeing Delta 2 rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral carrying NASA's comet-smashing probe called Deep Impact. This extended clip follows the mission through second stage ignition and jettison of the rocket's nose cone. (5min 37sec file)
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Press Site view
A camera located at Cape Canaveral's Press Site 1 location offers this view of the Delta rocket's ascent. (1min 24sec file)
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Cocoa Beach
A Boeing Delta 2 rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral carrying NASA's comet-smashing probe called Deep Impact. This extended clip follows the mission through second stage ignition and jettison of the rocket's nose cone. (5min 37sec file)
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Playalinda Beach
A Boeing Delta 2 rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral carrying NASA's comet-smashing probe called Deep Impact. This extended clip follows the mission through second stage ignition and jettison of the rocket's nose cone. (5min 37sec file)
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Tower rollback
The mobile service tower is rolled back from the Boeing Delta 2 rocket, exposing the vehicle at launch pad 17B just before daybreak. (3min 21sec file)
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Rocket preps
Assembly of the Boeing Delta 2 rocket at launch pad 17B and mating of the Deep Impact spacecraft is presented in this video package with expert narration. (6min 12sec file)
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Spacecraft campaign
The pre-launch campaign of Deep Impact at Cape Canaveral is presented in this video package with expert narration by a spacecraft team member. (5min 32sec file)
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Deep Impact briefing
The pre-launch news conference for Deep Impact is held at Kennedy Space Center on Jan. 11 to preview liftoff of this comet mission aboard a Boeing Delta 2 rocket. (43min 35sec file)

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Comet science
On the eve of Deep Impact's launch, mission scientists hold a news conference at Kennedy Space Center to discuss the comet-smashing project. (35min 17sec file)

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Mission overview
Rick Grammier, NASA's Deep Impact project manager from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, provides a detailed overview of the spacecraft and its mission. (4min 54sec file)
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Science preview
Deep Impact principal investigator Michael A'Hearn explains how the comet collision will occur and what scientists hope to learn. (7min 11sec file)
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Pre-flight news briefing
The pre-flight news conference is held at NASA Headquarters on December 14 to preview the Deep Impact mission to intercept a comet and blast a projectile into it. (54min 19sec file)
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Deep Impact arrives
NASA's Deep Impact comet spacecraft arrives at the Astrotech Space Operations Facility near Kennedy Space Center to begin final launch preparations for blastoff December 30 aboard a Boeing Delta 2 rocket. (2min 53sec file)
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Deep Impact's comet-watching telescope is blurred
BY JUSTIN RAY
SPACEFLIGHT NOW

Posted: March 25, 2005

The largest telescope ever launched into deep space is out of focus, NASA acknowledged Friday, but scientists say it still should collect the sharpest pictures of a comet's icy heart during a violent encounter July 4.

The 11.8-inch telescope is flying aboard the Deep Impact spacecraft, which will fire an 800-pound projectile into the nucleus of Comet Tempel 1 to burst through the crust coating the comet's core, form a stadium-sized crater and offer an unprecedented glimpse at ancient ices packed beneath the surface.

Known as the High-Resolution Instrument, the telescope will deliver light simultaneously to both a multispectral camera and an infrared spectrometer to photograph the crater and study the gases and dusts blown out of the comet during the impact.


The mothership's high-resolution telescope (right) and medium-resolution package (left) are seen here in assembly and testing. Credit: NASA
 
The $330 million Deep Impact mission was launched January 12 from Cape Canaveral. Over the past two months, ground controllers have conducted a commissioning process to examine the spacecraft's systems and instruments.

As part of this commissioning, the High-Resolution Instrument underwent so-called "bake-out heating" in a bid to remove residual moisture from its telescope barrel.

"The moisture was a result of absorption into the structure of the instrument during the vehicle's last hours on the launch pad and its transit through the atmosphere to space," NASA said in a statement Friday.

"At completion of the bake-out procedure, test images were taken through the HRI. These images indicate the telescope has not reached perfect focus."

The space agency says a special team has been formed to investigate ways to achieve the proper focus. Upcoming calibration tests will provide additional information about the instruments' performance, officials said.

"This in no way will affect our ability to impact the comet on July 4," said Rick Grammier, Deep Impact project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Everyone on the science and engineering teams is getting very excited and looking forward to the encounter."

"We are very early in the process of examining the data from all the instruments. It appears our infrared spectrometer is performing spectacularly, and even if the spatial resolution of the High Resolution Instrument remains at present levels, we still expect to obtain the best, most detailed pictures of a comet ever taken," said Dr. Michael A'Hearn of the University of Maryland.

Deep Impact consists of the main spacecraft, or mothership, and the impactor. The mothership carries the HRI telescope and a medium-resolution camera package to watch the impact and study the aftermath.

The impactor is a stubby-nosed, washing machine-sized bullet about two-and-a-half feet tall and three feet in diameter and sports a manhole cover-sized disc of copper with even more copper mass behind it to penetrate as deep into the comet as possible. The impactor also has cameras to photograph the comet until moments before slamming into the nucleus 23,000 mph, releasing the energy equivalent of 4.5 tons of exploding TNT.


An artist's concept shows the Deep Impact projectile hitting the comet while the mothership flies past. Credit: NASA
 
The impact occurs with the mothership 5,400 miles away and closing fast. The wider view, 4.7-inch medium-resolution telescope will be taking pictures as swiftly as possible to capture the moment of impact. The HRI telescope snaps pictures at a slower pace, ultimately striving to see objects 6-feet across near closest approach. The MRI camera, which checked out fine in the post-launch tests, has a resolution of 33-feet per pixel to photograph the entire nucleus when it flies past.

The mothership has less than 14 minutes to make its observations while zooming toward the comet before passing by Tempel 1 at a distance of 300 miles. Scientists expect the materials thrown out of the freshly bored hole will settle within a few minutes, permitting good visibility into the crater.

The pristine building blocks buried inside comets will tell astronomers what conditions were like when the solar system was spawning planets. Uncovering the compositional fingerprints of comets has become a priority for scientists because these objects peppered the young Earth, possibly delivering the organic materials needed for the rise of life, the water for our oceans and even playing a role in generating the atmosphere.

Once the July 4 rendezvous is completed, astronomers have hoped to divert the Deep Impact mothership to other comets to use the HRI telescope for up-close encounters with other rocky snowballs over the next few years.

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Video coverage for subscribers only:
VIDEO: DEEP IMPACT BLASTS OFF ATOP DELTA 2 ROCKET QT
VIDEO: LONGER-DURATION MOVIE OF THE LAUNCH QT
VIDEO: LAUNCH AS SEEN FROM THE CAPE PRESS SITE QT
VIDEO: WIDER-ANGLE LAUNCH VIEW FROM PRESS SITE QT
VIDEO: COCOA BEACH TRACKING CAMERA VIDEO OF LAUNCH QT
VIDEO: TRACKER POSITIONED NORTH OF THE LAUNCH PAD QT
VIDEO: PLAYALINDA BEACH TRACKING CAMERA VIEW QT
VIDEO: CLOSE-UP VIEW OF ENGINE IGNITION QT

VIDEO: MOBILE SERVICE TOWER ROLLED BACK BEFORE DAWN QT
VIDEO: NARRATION OF DEEP IMPACT'S PRE-LAUNCH CAMPAIGN QT
VIDEO: ON-PAD ASSEMBLY OF ROCKET SHOWN WITH NARRATION QT
VIDEO: TUESDAY'S PRE-LAUNCH NEWS UPDATE DIAL-UP | BROADBAND
VIDEO: SCIENCE BRIEFING ON EVE OF LAUNCH DIAL-UP | BROADBAND
VIDEO: OVERVIEW OF NASA'S DEEP IMPACT MISSION QT
VIDEO: LEAD RESEARCHER PREVIEWS DEEP IMPACT SCIENCE QT
VIDEO: WATCH DEEP IMPACT PRE-FLIGHT NEWS BRIEFING QT
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Columbia Report
A reproduction of the official accident investigation report into the loss of the space shuttle Columbia and its crew of seven.
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Mars Panorama

DISCOUNTED! This 360 degree image was taken by the Mars Pathfinder, which landed on the Red Planet in July 1997. The Sojourner Rover is visible in the image.
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Apollo 11 Mission Report
Apollo 11 - The NASA Mission Reports Vol. 3 is the first comprehensive study of man's first mission to another world is revealed in all of its startling complexity. Includes DVD!
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Rocket DVD
If you've ever watched a launch from Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Vandenberg Air Force Base or even Kodiak Island Alaska, there's no better way to describe what you witnessed than with this DVD.
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ERROR: Random File Unopenable

ERROR: Random File Unopenable

The random file, as specified in the $random_file perl variable was unopenable.

The file was not found on your file system. This means that it has either not been created or the path you have specified in $trrandom_file is incorrect.
Columbia Report
The official accident investigation report into the loss of the space shuttle Columbia and its crew of seven. Includes CD-ROM.
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U.S.


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