NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Deep Impact spacecraft launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 12 January 2005. Deep Impact was launched to study the composition of comet 9P/Tempel 1. The spacecraft consisted of an impactor, which was successfully launched at the nucleus of the comet on 4 July 2005, and a flyby probe that collected pictures and data from the impact. Material ejected from the impact indicated that under the surface of the comet is microscopic dust, water and carbon dioxide ice and hydrocarbons. Data collected has also shown that the comet is held together by gravitational forces. Comets are relics from the beginning of the solar system and as such can provide information on its history and formation.
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