A spacecraft of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) steered from the Pasadena-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will attempt to blow up a comet next month to find out more about the origins of the solar system.
The spacecraft, named &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/science/19/94/379/15424_comet.html ' target=_blank>Deep Impact, will have traveled 173 days and 268 million miles (about 470 million km) when it has close encounter with comet Tempel 1 on July 3.
Deep Impact will release a copper-fortified probe whose job is to make a crater in the orbiting iceberg that could range in size from a large house up to a football stadium from two to 14 storiesdeep.
The idea is to reveal the interior of the comet, which is thought to contain material that has not changed since the solar system was formed.
The potentially spectacular collision will be observed by the Deep Impact spacecraft and ground and space-based observatories, reports Xinhuanet.
The Deep Impact mission is designed to offer a look under the surface of a comet, where material from the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/region/2002/10/28/38796.html ' target=_blank>solar system's formation remains relatively unchanged.
Astronomers do not know what kind of impact they will see when the impactor hits: the crater produced on the comet could range in size from a large house to the size of a football stadium. Either way, it will not appreciably change the comet's path.
The crash is expected to eject a spray of ice and dust from the comet's surface and reveal the material beneath it on this Manhattan-sized space rock. At that point, the Deep Impact craft will have about 13 minutes to capture images and data before it weathers what astronomers expect will be a blizzard of particles thrown out of the nucleus of the comet.