Monday, July 04, 2005

Now This is the Type of Fireworks Worth Mentioning...

NASA did it! For the first time a manmade spacecraft has hit a comet. Deep Impact, a nearly half-ton probe, performed a sicide mission and slammed into the comet Tempel 1 at around 23,000 mph. The collision took place around 83 million miles from earth. NASA has a wonderful website dedicated to the mission, with some truly remarkable pictures as the impact neared and then took place. Scientists should be able to get a better idea of the composition of comets, which si significant because it could reveal some answers to questions about the early solar system. For example, when the earth was first formed some 4.5 billion years ago, one source of getting water on the new planet may have been comets (which are suspected to be largely big ice balls). There were presumably countless collisions between meteors, asteroids and comets in the early days of the formation of earth, and certain chemicals (even amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, which have been found on meteors) may have been delivered in those collisions. In any case, what a great mission!

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