How fast can you run a 10K? Last night, NASA’s Deep Impact mission was “running” slightly more than 10 kilometers toward Comet Tempel 1 every single second. And then it crashed into the comet, just as planned, igniting what was almost certainly the biggest July 4 fireworks display in the solar system.
Some “fast” facts:
- With some quick math, you’ll realize that the spacecraft’s impact speed of 10.2 km/s is equivalent to almost 37,000 km/hr, or about 23,000 mi/hr. That means it covered a distance nearly equivalent to that from Earth to the Moon during the last 10 hours of its approach.
- If I’ve done my own quick math right, the impact released energy nearly equivalent to that of detonating 10 tons of TNT. (fyi, I base my calculation on the 370-kg spacecraft’s kinetic energy of about 2×10^10 joules, all presumably converted to light and heat upon impact.)
- See the impact movie (taken by the spacecraft that hit the comet as it made its final approach).
- For more general info, photos, and updates on science results, see the Deep Impact web site.
- There was also a great article about the rationale for the mission in yesterday’s New York Times (July 3, 2005, op-ed page), written by my friend Dave Grinspoon…
Happy July 4 to all!