LOS ANGELES (AP) — A spacecraft that gave scientists their first peek into a comet's icy interior will explore no more, NASA said Friday.

The space agency declared an end to the Deep Impact spacecraft after it unexpectedly fell silent. Engineers tried for a month to regain contact, but lost hope.

Mission scientist Jessica Sunshine of the University of Maryland said she was "saddened at the loss of an old friend."

Deep Impact put on a celestial fireworks display July 4, 2005, when it fired a projectile into comet Tempel 1. The high-speed impact carved a crater and hurled a plume of debris into space, giving scientists their first glimpse of the comet's frozen primordial ingredients.

Afterward, Deep Impact journeyed toward comet Hartley 2, flying through a blizzard of ice particles and escaping unharmed. It later flew by the distant comet Garradd and also observed stars in search of Earth-sized planets outside the solar system.

Before Deep Impact lost contact last month, it was studying another comet named Ison that could shine as bright as the moon when it makes a close swing by Earth in November.

The cause of the failure was unknown, but engineers suspect the spacecraft lost control, causing its antenna and solar panels to point in the wrong direction. Without power flowing to its onboard computer, Deep Impact likely froze to death.

Scientists were disappointed at the timing of the silence that cut short their observations of comet Ison and future plans.

"It is hard to say goodbye," said mission scientist Lori Feaga of the University of Maryland.

Deep Impact's comet adventures have changed scientists' views of comets, irregular bodies of ice and dust that orbit the sun and are leftovers from the formation of the solar system. Once thought to be similar, scientists said comets are more varied than initially realized. Comet Tempel 1, for example, turned out to be fluffier than scientists imagined.

The $372 million Deep Impact mission was managed by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. With communication lost, the spacecraft will continue traveling around the sun.

___

Follow Alicia Chang at: http://twitter.com/SciWriAlicia

About News.net

Publishing Services International Limited (PSIL) is the publisher and operator of a worldwide network of online news sites dedicated to delivering fair, accurate and relevant reporting from a variety of the world’s most trusted sources – from the biggest cities to the smallest towns.

We deliver positive and powerful messages to our readers, providing up‑to‑the‑second news that matters to the individual.

Our promise is to serve communities and individuals worldwide, delivering information that hasn’t always been available to them. We will give them back a voice – a voice that’s empowering because it is theirs – and provide a platform to communicate between themselves and the world.

We believe people are not just generic demographics; they are individuals with their own preferences and curiosities. We are about understanding these individuals, listening to them, and serving them.

We are the new pioneering spirit of news – we’re not talking to everyone, we’re talking with every one.

If you want your news, your voice, your way, on your time – we’ve got news for you.

 

FAQs

Email

If you have any questions or concerns please email us on support@news.net

Phone

  • Australia, Toll Free 1-800-983-421
  • Hong Kong, Toll Free 800-906-187
  • Singapore, Toll Free 800-852-3871
  • USA/Canada, Toll Free 1-800-830-4132

Advertise With Us

Interested in being awesome?
Contact us by email or phone.

Cancel