Latest 81P/Wild Stories
Comet Tempel 1 was hit hard by a NASA spacecraft earlier this week. Deep Impact scientists provided more details about what the impact has taught us about the comet's structure.
It sounded like science fiction -- NASA scientists used a space probe to chase down a speeding comet 83 million miles away and slammed it into the frozen ball of dirty ice and debris in a mission to learn how the solar system was formed. The impact at 10:52 p.m. PDT was cause for celebration around the globe.
NASA and University of Arizona researchers have discovered pristine mineral grains that formed in an ancient supernova explosion. The grains were among other extraterrestrial dust plucked by high-flying NASA research aircraft from Earth's upper atmosphere after they were delivered to Earth by a comet or primitive asteroid.
Not all dazzling fireworks displays will be on Earth this Independence Day. NASA hopes to shoot off its own celestial sparks in an audacious mission that will blast a stadium-sized hole in a comet half the size of Manhattan. It would give astronomers their first peek at the inside of one of these heavenly bodies.
Counting down the top ten astrobiology stories for 2004 highlights the accomplishments of those exploring Mars, Saturn, comets, and planets beyond Pluto. Number five in this countdown was the Stardust mission and its capture of comet dust for Earth return.
The Deep Impact mission will send a large copper projectile crashing into the surface of a comet at more than 20,000 miles per hour, creating a huge crater and revealing never before seen materials and the internal compostion and structure of a comet.
Comet -- A comet is a small body from the outer reaches of the solar system similar to an asteroid but composed of ice. Often described as "dirty snowballs," they are composed largely of carbon dioxide ice, methane ice, and water ice with a mixture of dust and small stony aggregates mixed in. Comets are thought to be small pieces of debris left over from the formation of the solar system, representing a sample of the original composition of the nebula that condensed to form the Sun and all...