Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Delta II rocket lifts off from its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on January 12, 2005...sending the DEEP IMPACT spacecraft on its way to Comet Tempel 1.

WOOHOO! My name is going to be vaporized in outer space!! I was being sarcastic with the "woohoo", by the way. A Delta II rocket carrying the Deep Impact spacecraft was launched from Florida today, and the spacecraft is scheduled to fly to a comet known as Tempel 1, where the probe will release a small projectile that will collide with the comet this July 4 and (supposedly) cause a crater that will be studied by the spacecraft and telescopes here on Earth. I'd say this was a cool mission, since a compact disc bearing the names of thousands of people (Yours Truly included, as well as other people I know personally whose names I submitted without them knowing. Haha) has been flown on Deep Impact (click here to look up names). But guess what? The CD has been attached to the projectile (known as the Impactor) itself, not the spacecraft! And according to this article, the Impactor will hit the comet's surface at 23,000 MPH...meaning that the Impactor will obviously be pulverized when it hits the icy body! The heck?? Why couldn't the CD be attached to the spacecraft itself?? I wonder if that was the catch by NASA: They'll send something bearing your name into outer space, but that object can't survive in space for too long. You guys blow!!

On the other hand, I also submitted by name to NASA more than ten years ago to be put on a CD that is on the Cassini spacecraft, which is currently orbiting Saturn (I submitted a postcard with my name written on it). So until Cassini is directed by flight controllers to burn up in Saturn's atmosphere or collide with a moon once its mission is complete, my name will still be intact in the heavens (nice wording, eh?). I guess NASA doesn't blow, afterall. No wait, I didn't get a certificate confirming that my name has indeed been included on the CD. NASA still blows.

An artwork depicting the DEEP IMPACT spacecraft observing the crater formed after the Impactor's collision with Comet Tempel 1.

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