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Thursday, 4 November 2010

Deep Impact reveals another strange new world...

A brief note here: My congratulations to the Deep Impact/ EPOXI team on their successful flyby of comet Hartley 2. Closest approach was at 1400 hours UTC, and the first close up images hit the web at 1500.

Image above :My favorite view of Hartley 2 to come down so far! Note the twin lobe structure, connected by an oddly smooth neck. Courtesy of NASA/JPL/UMD

The mission website is [1]here, and there are already fascinating analysis of these images being made over at the [2]planetary society blog. I won't clutter things with my own attempt at analysis - over the coming months and years these and the many images yet to come will be subjected to exhaustive analysis by minds far more informed by mine.

What I'd like to do is offer my thoughts on what has been achieved here: 23 million kilometers away a space craft built, launched, and operated by us very imperfect humans has torn past a 4.5 billion year old relic of the solar systems birth, and given us all a chance to learn a bit more about where we came from, and what this tiny strange world is like.

The comet itself has a stark and alien beauty about it. The achievement these images represent is something the whole of humankind can take pride in. And I will, of course, be keeping an ear close to the ground for the knowledge that will inevitably be sifted from these pictures.

John Freeman
EDIT There will be a NASA press conference on the data recieved so far at 20:00 hours UTC, or 16:00 EDT. Availaible [3]here as Ustream, or [4]here on NASA TV. Enjoy, I know I will!


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