GIL BABIN / EURELIOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GIL BABIN / EURELIOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Deep Impact comet strike. Artwork of the Deep Impact space probe's impactor (lower right), just before it hit the nucleus of the comet Tempel 1. A last-minute firing of the impactor's rockets, to ensure it hit the comet, is shown here. This NASA mission was launched in January 2005. The impactor was released from the Deep Impact probe on 3 July 2005, and hit the comet around a day later on 4 July 2005. The 500 kilogram impactor, travelling at 10 kilometres per second, blasted a large crater in the comet and ejected material into space. Sensors on the space probe monitored the explosion to discover the composition of the comet. The comet material was found to contain more rock, and less ice, than expected.
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