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Deep Impact: First Look Inside A Comet

NOAO Workshop to coordinate a groundbased observing campaign of comet 9P/Tempel 1

Monday, February 23, 2004
NOAO Main Conference Room (Rm 180)

Background Information

On July 2005, NASA’s Deep Impact mission will deliver a 360kg impactor to comet 9P/Tempel 1 at 10km/s. The results of the impact should be readily observable from Earth and good observations from Earth will provide unique information about the interior properties of a cometary nucleus. Although the flyby spacecraft of the Deep Impact mission will make unique in situ measurements, the constraints of space missions limit us to imaging and near-infrared spectroscopy. The PI, Mike A’Hearn and the Deep Impact Ground Observing Coordinator, Karen Meech are further constrained to an 800-sec interval from time of impact until the flyby spacecraft has flown past the point of observability of the impact site. The mission has been designed to provide good observing conditions from Earth and we are encouraging a wide range of observations from before the event (to establish a baseline of behavior over a week or more) until long after the event (since long-lived changes in the behavior are a plausible outcome).

Karen Meech is in charge of coordinating the ground- and space-based support for the mission, both for establishing the pre-impact baselines and to coordinate observers for maximal scientific yield at the time of encounter and immediately following. Both Karen and Mike would like to discuss the possibility of key project proposals for several international observing facilities, and would like to involve as many members of the community as possible, along the lines of the observing campaigns for the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet impact with Jupiter in 1994.

On behalf of Mike A’Hearn and Karen Meech, you are invited to attend this informal workshop to be held at NOAO.

The workshop attendance is limited by the size of the available conference room. If you are interested in participating in the workshop, please write to Kathy English ( as soon as possible.

Workshop Goals:

  1. To update the community on the status of the mission and the science goals.
  2. To discuss the key ground support observations that we will need at various wavelengths at the time of encounter.
  3. To begin discussions on the unique capabilities of NOAO facilities to participate in the Deep Impact science.
  4. To form collaborations and begin the initial work for writing a key project proposal for both the pre-impact science (the comet is visible Nov 2004 through impact) and the encounter science.

Tentative Agenda:





Welcome & Intro

Karen Meech


The Deep Impact Mission

Mike A'Hearn


DI Earth based Observing - pre-impact and Encounter planning

Karen Meech




The Rotation State of 9P/Tempel 1

Nalin Samarasinha


Cratering Physics

Jim Richardson


KPNO Instrumentation

Richard Green


Gemini and Deep Impact

Taft Armandroff


Discussion & Observing Plans

K. Meech/M. A'Hearn


NOAO is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc. under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

AURA, inc. NSF

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