Comet Tempel 1 Re-Visited


Recently my mind has been blown twice. First by listening to the first four songs on Funkadelic’s acid-drenched 1970 album Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow. Then by studying the above picture.

It’s comet Tempel 1. Up close in interplanetary space. And it’s been visited twice by different space probes: first Deep Impact imaged the comet on its way towards the sun in 2005 and shot an impactor point blank at it. Then the Stardust probe, originally designed and launched to meet with another comet, was sent to meet Tempel 1 on its way out again from the sun. Today Stardust imaged the comet and got a clean shot of the surface where the impactor hit 5½ Earth years ago. Science rules, Dear Reader, science rules.

For more Tempel 1 coverage, see Emily Lakdawalla’s blog at the Planetary Society.

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  1. #1 Birger Johansson
    February 15, 2011

    The synthetic image displays the object as a light gray potato-like lump. In reality, it is likely very dark. Comets (their cores, not their comas and tails) are almost as dark as toner powder, because of the carbon-rich matter.

    Speaking of comets, I am priviliged to live in a part of the world where you can still find places with pitch-black night sky within easy driving range of the towns and villages- a necessity if you want to see comets and the Milky Way in all their glory by the naked eye.

    (And if you are planning to go to the southern hemisphere during the upcoming vacation, I recommend you to plan for doing a bit of southern sky spotting 🙂

  2. #2 Mark P
    February 16, 2011

    I agree that science rules, but here I think you have to give some credit to the engineers, too.

  3. #3 Martin R
    February 16, 2011

    Yes, absolutely. Though this is one of the fields where you can’t do good science unless you understand the engineering, and vice versa.

  4. #4 Phillip IV
    February 16, 2011

    Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow.

    And what would be the advantage of having a free ass? Aside from being popular on the gay bar scene, I mean.

  5. #5 Martin R
    February 16, 2011

    It means “Take LSD and you won’t care much any more about being oppressed and poor”.

  6. #6 Birger Johansson
    February 16, 2011

    “Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow”

    Wasn’t there a short story during the (blissfully brief) New Wawe of 1960s science fiction where they landed on a planet and found they suddenly had extra buttocks or other extremities?

  7. #7 Martin R
    February 16, 2011

    I don’t know. Always a drag though when that happens.

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