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Space United States

NASA Prepares to Launch Comet-Buster 207

Chessphoon writes "NASA's Deep Impact, a spacecraft named after the 1998 movie, is scheduled to launch on January 12. If all goes as planned, the spacecraft will collide with Comet Tempel 1 six months later on July 4, and create a crater so that the inside of the comet can be analyzed."
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NASA Prepares to Launch Comet-Buster

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  • by mstra ( 38238 ) * <matt,stratton&gmail,com> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @04:53PM (#11239665) Homepage Journal
    ...or is this the kind of thing that, if it happened in a movie, would cause an apocolypse brought on by our own hubris?

    Yes, I read TFA. I know that there is no danger. But those crazy scientists in the movies always think they are safe too.

    • Re:Is it just me... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fred911 ( 83970 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @04:56PM (#11239682)
      " I know that there is no danger"

      That's because you don't live there. What if we're too stupid to recognize a type of life that does?
      • by mstra ( 38238 ) * <matt,stratton&gmail,com> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @05:09PM (#11239764) Homepage Journal
        Hey, if they're too stupid to have created movies to teach them to defend themselves against Bruce Willis, then they're better off being wiped out.
      • "That's because you don't live there. What if we're too stupid to recognize a type of life that does?"
        Well if there is life it must be pretty board living on a frozen rock. The is the most exciting thing to happen to that comet in a long time. I am sure thier news network will love it.
        • by aminorex ( 141494 ) on Monday January 03, 2005 @01:29AM (#11242126) Homepage Journal
          i TRIED to explain there was intelligent life on the wet rock, but nobody believed me. i shouldn't have admitted that it was made of meat. then they might have at least checked out my story, but when i tried to explain that there was animated intelligent meat living on a warm rock by Sol, that it had cultures, art, even songs (singing meat?) well, i wouldn't have believed it either if i hadn't seen it myself.
          the new hyperdrive bypass goes through on tuesday.
          so long, singing meat people.
      • They were quite entitled to make any suggestions or protests at the apporpriate time, you know....

        The plans were announced months ago...

        Well...but the plans were on display, on the internet even, surely they have access to the internet out there....

        Yes the Earth internet...

        Yes we're some distance away and all....

        Look they haven't even tried to find the plans...

        It's not as if it's a particularly nice rock...

        Oh they'll love the crater!

      • What if we're too stupid to recognize a type of life that does? After seeing too much star trek, I kind of admit there might be some very strange life form there. Altough, that is VERY unlikely, simply because there is no:
        • Atmosphere
        • Oxygien
        • Water
        • Jean Luc Picard
        Show me one or two of those, and i'd be willing to talk :-)
    • Can the editors get a clue, as said in other articles else where on the net, the name DEEP IMPACT was determined about the same time as the movie title was, but was 100% a coincedence and not chosen because of a movie.

      Yes a small anal point, but jeez, you guys fail basic Journalism 101 class dudes.

      • . . . you guys fail basic Journalism 101 class dudes.

        Of course.. that's why they're posting on slashdot :)


      • It's becoming almost compulsory to make some fatuous, inappropriate movie reference to get your articles posted on Slashdot these days (eg, the "James Bond" peelable paint -- not a fucking word about James Bond in TFA, of course). And in this one, "Comet-Buster": it's NOT going to "bust" the comet; it'll smack into it all right, but that's all. The editors seem to be as easily amused and deceived as an average 9-year-od.
    • Yes, I read TFA. I know that there is no danger. But those crazy scientists in the movies always think they are safe too.

      This is real life. Real life is usually orders of magnitude less exciting than the movies. But if you're looking for a little danger, you can always walk around Harlem naked. It's a pretty sure bet that shortly after that, either you will impact something, or something will impact you.

    • "If it's done safely, therapeutically, there's no danger involved."
  • IMO, why waste money to see the content of a comet? There are so many better things to learn and explore in this great cosmos of ours.

    I really think they will be sorely disappointed when they discover the comet is really some rock covered with ice.
    • So many better things to study.. why go to the moon? It's a dead rock.
      • by albn ( 835144 )
        Why did we go to the moon? It was a political "mine is bigger than yours" game. Also, we want to send miners up there to compensate for dwindling natural resources. How is that going to cost effective?
        • How is that going to cost effective?

          It will be, just not anytime soon. Don't get caught in the trap of always thinking what is here and now is all there is.

          Spend a moment and think on the scale technology has driven forward in the past 200 years. We have gone from living in the dark at night, without climate control, to sending people to the moon and mechanical drones to Mars.

          Quantum computing and nanotech are going to hit eventually. If not one of those, then it is likely someone will stumble on someth
    • Maybe the technology could be used to take a comet off-course when it's about to hit something we don't want it to (eg Earth)?
    • by Free_Meson ( 706323 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @04:58PM (#11239697)
      IMO, why waste money to see the content of a comet? There are so many better things to learn and explore in this great cosmos of ours.

      I bet there's a tootsie pop in the middle and we'll still be left pondering that eternal question: how many licks does it take to get to the middle of a tootsie pop?
    • course with earth and we have to figure out how to nudge it off course, the data this mission gathers will be invaluable.

      The ass we save may be our own.
    • by drakethegreat ( 832715 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @05:08PM (#11239758) Homepage
      I think you are thinking about it the wrong way. NASA doesn't like to spend more money to send crafts over 1000 times the distance or greater (where other comets might be) but rather would spend money on analyzing a comet right near by. It saves them money actually and because they have never seen the comet up close its possible that its something besides just a big rock. NASA is full of optimists who think that something amazing to learn could be anywhere in the cosmos so they will take the time to look at anything they can. Waste of time, I don't think so.
    • So what if it turns out there are hidden WMDs in there?
    • You think maybe they expect to find out it's a gigantic tamale covered in sour cream?

      _Any_ data about the interior of a comet would be informative, and will incfluence theories about the formation of the solar sytem.

    • you must be a jock (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cheekyboy ( 598084 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @05:26PM (#11239842) Homepage Journal
      Because if all comets are NOT ice, but just normal asteroids that generate massive plasma/electric charges, then that changes *ALL* theories on how the earth/solar system was evolved, and that throws out other derived theories, and then it makes more new ones, which would lead to more discoveries and finally allowing you to get your anti-gravity device to get to the moon. OK.
    • why waste money to see the content of a comet? Well, we need to get those giant ice cubes to battle global warming from somewhere!
    • NASA is hoping this comet probe works out better than the last one, CONTOUR. [] It will work only if the aliens let it.
  • by knapper_tech ( 813569 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @04:56PM (#11239681)
    What if the comets retaliate by impacting Earth?
  • Do your homework... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2005 @04:56PM (#11239684)
    The NASA project was *not* named after the movie. Read ter.ap/index.html
    for the real story.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The NASA project was *not* named after the movie... It was named after a p0rn fantasy.
    • the link doesn't really say anything to one way or another about it.

      and really... would you believe that ASIMO isn't named after asimov just because some pr folkster said so?
    • First paragraph:
      The spacecraft is called Deep Impact just like the 1998 movie about a comet headed straight for Earth.
      Nothing else in the article says how it was named. Don't be silly, of course it was named after the movie. You think somebody at NASA right now is going, "Gosh, what a coincidence! Who knew Hollywood made a movie of the same name about flying out to a space rock."
  • More information.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by NOT-2-QUICK ( 114909 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @04:56PM (#11239686) Homepage
    From a previous slashdot article [].
  • The mission is NOT named after the movie, the project manager claims that they came up with the name independently at around the same time. However, members of the team also served as consultants on the movie.
  • Oh dear god! They smashed the spaceship into Slashdot!
  • by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @04:58PM (#11239694) Homepage
    And in six months, they've going to come and look for all of you! []
    Deep Impact's larger flyby spacecraft will carry a smaller impactor spacecraft to Tempel 1 for release into the comet's path for a planned collision. The flyby spacecraft will take pictures as the 370-kilogram (816 pound) copper-tipped impactor plunges into Tempel 1 at about 37,000 kilometers (22,990 miles) per hour. The impactor is expected to make a spectacular, football field-sized crater, seven to 15 stories deep, in the speeding comet. Carried aboard the impactor will be a standard mini-CD containing the names of comet, space and other enthusiasts from around the world.
    Hopefully they won't be too pissed off. Maybe just an alien wedgie or something?
  • Corpsicle (Score:1, Funny)

    by vveak ( 588748 )
    I created the Event Horizon to reach the stars, but she's gone much, much farther than that. She tore a whole in our universe, a gateway to another dimension, a dimension of pure chaos, pure evil
  • Uh-oh, better call Maaco! []
  • by fuzzy12345 ( 745891 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @05:06PM (#11239743)
    NASA should have considered planning this mission to be a near-flyby. Given their record of hitting what they aim to miss and missing what they aim to hit...
  • Maybe.. (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    They should get the ESA to oversee/launch this mission. They seem to have no problem impacting their spacecraft.

  • by deft ( 253558 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @05:17PM (#11239799) Homepage
    Wheras the pioneer spacecraft carried media of human genome, voices, sounds, animals, how the world workewd, this mission needed to crater a giant comet.

    Therefore, the media stored on board consists of Gigli, Ishtar, Hudson hawk, Battlefield Earth, and The Adventures of Pluto Nash.
  • What a great gesture of intergallactic diplomacy.

    We send out a spacecraft with a plaque theorizing someone could intercept it. Do we think hurling a bomb is any less likely to be found by an alien civilization?
    • You see, objects have to obey this nice thing called gravity. No matter how many times you may have heard it, you could not throw a baseball to the moon from orbit (Though a big enough railgun could do it...). Things are not weightless in space, that is just an illusion created when falling. Throwing a baseball from the shuttle, for example, would give it a slightly diffrent orbit, but it wouldn't drift off into the unknown. It may even come back and hit you a few orbits later. If this thing missed, the i
  • "NASA's Deep Impact, a spacecraft named after the 1998 movie"

    ...and next year the "Preparation H" will probe an asteroid. It will be the first spacecraft in history entirely covered in latex.

  • by tygerstripes ( 832644 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @05:52PM (#11239934)
    Carried aboard the impactor will be a standard mini-CD containing the names of comet, space and other enthusiasts from around the world.
    Now look, we all remember hearing back in the '80s how you could run a truck over a CD, cover it in jam and use it as a teething-ring and still get it to play, but it's just not true!!!

    Send an I-pod instead. That might survive. If it doesn't get stolen en-route.

  • I wonder if they will send it up squeakey clean biologically or if they will let it fly full of microbes so that we can have a chance at seeding another planet with our wonderfully fruity DNA.
    • by lxt ( 724570 )
      I'm going to assume you meant by the comet crashing into a planet, and isn't it a creditable belief that some of the material responsible for life on earth was brought by comets? Perhaps a alien civilisation's equivalent of this probe was the basis for the entire of life on Earth? :)

      On a slightly more serious note, all NASA space gear is assembled in a clean room, and they do almost everything they can to prevent microbes from contaminating equipment.
  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:03PM (#11239974) Homepage Journal
    She thinks that the NASA is just hiding the fact that the comet is about to hit us and is dangerous so they decided to blow it up but masked the attempt as a scientific experiment.

    (and before you, smartasses, ask me, yes, she is a girl :)

  • Because they can? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Gorffy ( 763399 )
    So, blow up a chunk of what we expect to be ice and rock... just to confirm that it is, indeed. Ice and rock. Maybe it's magic space rock! i think this project might just be:
    a.) a geologists wet dream
    b.) a way for nasa to prove it can do something right, and get more money. (1.) Shoot missle at comet. 2.)?? 3.) Government Funding!)

    The Titan project (forget the name) is far better.
    • Well, provided that you kept people with, like, knowledge out of the room, you could spin a success with this thing as a demonstration of how we can make a missle shield.
    • As it stands, we really don't know what's under the surface when it comes to comets and other extraterrestrial objects. This probe will let us find out.

      This is of great interest from a basic research perspective, but after our relative close call with MN 2004 [] the more practical applications of this should be obvious.
  • by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:25PM (#11240081) Homepage
    the nanotech civilization living on the comet wipes Earth off the Solar System...

    With luck, they'll be more precise about it and just wipe out the US government.

    Well, we can hope...

  • Has anyone played around with their little Java orbit simulator? It seems to me that in 2022 or so, the comet will come to a very near miss or possibly even impact with Mars. How reliable is this simulator in the long run, and how likely is it that something of that nature would occur and/or have any major effects?
  • Thanks NASA (Score:3, Funny)

    by Tom7 ( 102298 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @07:02PM (#11240276) Homepage Journal
    I'm glad we're finally doing something about these damned comets.

    Kill 'em all!
  • First, they must have taken a page from the particle physics book: smash things together and see what happens.

    Second, we already know they're good at crashing [] things, [] so this shouldn't be a problem. In all seriousness, I look forward to it.
  • at band camp, we converted my flute into a rocket. We had a launch and it intercepted an asteroid. We steered the asteroid into a collision path with the earth. It was all very politically motivated of course. You see we wanted to bring in the new world order with a bang.
  • remember? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Striker770S ( 825292 )
    NASA's Deep Impact, a spacecraft named after the 1998 movie
    why would anybody want to remember that movie let alone name something after it. The only reason it was made was because celestial objects destroying the planet was in that year. I mean remember that one fad where volcanoes destroying stuff was in. But i dont think NASA would be that connected into hollywood-movie-pop-fopa to name something after a movie because movies are so fake. I mean hell no one would name a fusion generator the octavious bec
    • fopa? Try faux pas. Funny. That's sort of like fumbling over the pronunciation of "pronunciation". :)
  • The NASA project was NOT named after the movie of the same name.

    It was named after Armageddon.
  • ...but if the "Heaven's Gate" cult was right, we might be killing several aliens and the spirits of all the 39 dead humans who "warped" to the comet after committing suicide.
  • by superyooser ( 100462 ) on Monday January 03, 2005 @01:36AM (#11242146) Homepage Journal
    ... the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft, which will attempt a controlled landing on a comet, but not until 2014.

    Deep Impact, by contrast, will provide "instant gratification," says Grammier. The entire $330 million mission should be wrapped up a month after impact.

    So, the Europeans are going to geeeently land their little rover (Beagle III?), putter around, and delicately inspect rocks and dust. Boooriiiinng! :-)

    NASA, in typical American fashion []...

    This is one spacecraft NASA wants to smash and trash. "It would be like it's standing in the middle of the road and this huge semi coming down at it at 23,000 mph (37,015 kph), you know, just bam!" Grammier says. ... "We expect to provide great fireworks for all our observatories," Grammier says, "and that's exciting to do it on July Fourth."
    KA-BLOOIEE! Blow it up! Blow it up! I'm so glad I'm an American. This is a country that combines science, space explosions, and patriotism into one very cool bundle. And we can take pictures of it from Mars.

    I. Love. This. Countryyy! Yeeeeeeaaah! *does Bush/Ballmer monkey dance*

    • the Europeans are going to geeeently land their little rover (Beagle III?)

      Oh, it's called the Rosetta. Sorry. I even quoted that. Doh!
      But the Beagle jab was said in jest anyway.

  • We already know what they'll find in the middle of the comet. Naquadah [].

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: A giant panda bear is really a member of the racoon family.