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NASA's Deep Impact

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the metric-bathtub-or-imperial dept.

Space 314

NivenMK1 writes "The Seattle Times has an interesting article on NASA's plan to nail the comet Tempel 1 with a chunk of copper the size of a bathtub on July 4 this year. This copper 'bullet' is intended to strike the comet at approximately 23,000 mph and hit with a force equivalent to 4.7 tons of TNT. Scientists hope to discover what exactly the comet is made of and what changes have occurred to the outer layers with reference to the core."

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Don't have to RTFA to see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936581)

...that there's someting dodgy there: 4th of July this year? The article is either strangely premature, or outdated.

Hit when? (4, Funny)

ceeam (39911) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936585)

July 4 this year?! What a coincidence - it's the date the project I'm working on now should be finished to.

Re:Hit when? (1)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936594)

Will it coincide with an Alien attack and the president flying into it to plant a virus ?.

Re:Hit when? (1)

daniil (775990) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936654)

They must be using a different calendar.

Who Cares? (-1, Flamebait)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936818)

This copper 'bullet' is intended to strike the comet at approximately 23,000 mph and hit with a force equivalent to 4.7 tons of TNT. Scientists hope to discover what exactly the comet is made of and what changes have occurred to the outer layers with reference to the core."

You Americans always find it so easy to forget with your amazing (and amazingly expensive) projects and stunts that your country is broke, trillions of dollars in debt, and living primarily on the welfare of international bankers (primarily Asian).

Wake up and take a sober and realistic accounting of your new relative position in the world. And leave the expensive and worthless stunts to Hollywood.

Re:Who Cares? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936833)

Actually a large sum of that debt is to the people that live in this country.

Re:Who Cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936949)

And even trillions of dollars in debt, we still manage to keep our poor people fed (our homeless don't starve, they just live outside!), our crazy projects running (where's *your* country's golden comet-smashing bathtub?!), and still have the cash and free time to win a war (yeah, you heard me! It's slow and ugly, but *we're winning*!).

So suck on that, you pompous twat. Oh, and I voted for Kerry, so even the losing side over here would like to take this opportunity to tell you to blow it out your ass!

Cue Warner Bros cartoon... (5, Funny)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936586)

...where the bullet misses its target and curves back round to origin.

Don't miss guys - and watch out for Hubble!

Re:Cue Warner Bros cartoon... (1, Funny)

Mod Me God Five (832071) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936742)

No dude, its not a cartoon, its pr0n, I can see the popups now:

NASA's Deep Impact, Starring [pun] Seymour Butts and Jade Hsu; can his bronze bullet penetrate deep enough or will she blow him to kingdom cum?

Re:Cue Warner Bros cartoon... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936978)

ObFuturama quote:

Zapp: Then what did we just blow up?
[Kif checks the screen beside him.]
Kif: The Hubble Telescope.

This year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936588)

This year, July ...
I'm looking forward ...

Re:This year (2, Informative)

novakyu (636495) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936977)

From TFA: Unfortunately, comet watchers will have to plant themselves somewhere between New Zealand and the southwestern United States to see it.

'Got a nice yacht, perchance?

Expensive launch mass? (3, Interesting)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936591)


Would it not be cheaper/better to drop a lump of high explosive on it rather than a heavy lump of copper?

Re:Expensive launch mass? (5, Insightful)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936602)

You want to analyse the comet, which you can do by looking at the emission lines of the cloud forming after the impact, ect.
An explosive is normally composed of chemically very reactive components, that can react with each other and the material of the comet, making it very hard to discern what WAS there and what was created by the blast.

Forgot one thing: (5, Insightful)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936666)

Look at the numbers:
The impact power of the copper rod is 4+ tonnes of TNT. IF you wanted to double the blast, you would have to send more than 4 tonnes of explosives.
at 30km/s+, the kinetic energy of the material is bigger than the chemical energy of explosives.
The added energy just doesnt matter anymore because it would be difficult to time the blast, plus the softness of the explosives would reduce the impact penetration.

Re:Expensive launch mass? (2, Insightful)

Squapper (787068) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936605)

Explosive will heat up the comet, leave pollution, and make analysis of the dust very hard....

Re:Expensive launch mass? (1)

Cougem (734635) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936639)

Yeh, or something the world can spare, like, ooo, I don't know.....a melted down blob of AOL demo CDs? Or George Bush, pre-frozen in carbonite? Or Paris?

Re:Expensive launch mass? (1)

DoctorPepper (92269) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936758)

Or Paris?

France or Hilton?

Re:Expensive launch mass? (4, Funny)

DoraLives (622001) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936788)

France or Hilton?

Yes.

Re:Expensive launch mass? (5, Informative)

HeghmoH (13204) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936669)

The lump of copper is 820 pounds, and will be equivalent to 5 tons of TNT. If you sent an 820-pound lump of TNT, you would get an explosion of about 5.4 tons of TNT. An extra .4 tons-TNT increase, in exchange for a vastly more dangerous mission and chemical contamination is not a good trade.

At these speeds, the kinetic energy is so great that chemical explosives are nearly pointless.

Re:Expensive launch mass? (5, Funny)

Mod Me God Five (832071) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936713)

And millions of years from now the aliens invezstigating the comet will scratch their heads thinking 'why is there a piece of copper the size of a bathtub on this comet'. Far greater amusement factor.

Re:Expensive launch mass? (1)

batemanm (534197) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936844)

How do we know that this hasn't already happened and that there isn't already a bathtub sized chunk of copper on it. That would probably screw up the results somewhat.

Re:Expensive launch mass? (2, Interesting)

nmk (781777) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936851)

I'm not sure if it would be amusing. In all likelihood, it would be a startling discovery. Can you imagine what would happen if we were to find large metallic unnatural object stuck in a commit. It would be the first potential evidence of intelligent extraterrestrial life.

Re:Expensive launch mass? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936765)

ummm...

how are you planning to get the explosive equivalent of 5.4 tons of TNT from only 820 lbs of TNT?

I think the thermodynamic police will be after you.

rho

Re:Expensive launch mass? (3, Insightful)

HeghmoH (13204) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936832)

The other 5 tons of TNT of explosion comes from the kinetic energy.

Re:Expensive launch mass? (4, Insightful)

f4llenang3l (834942) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936741)

I don't think the emission lines would actually provide much of a problem, it would be pretty easy to filter out the gaseous emissions of the explosives... I think the greater problem would be the unpredictability of the momentum problem if you added a chemical explosion. With a solid projectile, you can expect to learn a lot about the comet simply by what happens to the path of the intercepting projectile- ie shooting the snowball example. But, if you shoot a snowball with an RPG, or an iceball with an RPG, it's a lot harder to look at the resulting dispersion and tell what the target was made of after the fact.

Re:Expensive launch mass? (5, Funny)

Odin's Raven (145278) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936887)

Would it not be cheaper/better to drop a lump of high explosive on it rather than a heavy lump of copper?

Given NASA's budget, copper made more sense. Finding themselves unable to afford chemical or nuclear explosives, NASA employees have spent the last four years collecting stray pennies - checking under seat cushions in taxis, keeping a watchful eye on the sidewalks and streets near their offices, and so on and so forth. Also, twice a year they held bake sales in the Vistor's Center where purchases had to be paid for entirely in pennies. Since they also lacked the budget to purchase a safe, or even a large piggy bank, one enterprising employee scrounged an old bathtub from a nearby dump, and placed it in the hall outside the Deep Impact lab for people to toss the pennies into. (Which is why the project is using the new "size of a bathtub" metric instead of the international "Volkswagon" unit of measurement.)

Re:Expensive launch mass? (0)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936964)


Not at all. First off, there's the matter of chemical contamination of the "sample" we're trying to dislodge from the comet. Secondly, it would deprive us of the following conversation.

NASA tech #1: So what are we launching at that comet?
NASA tech #2: Golden bathtub.
NASA tech #1: THEY BOUGHT IT?
NASA tech #2: Totally.
NASA tech #1: So what do we try next?
NASA tech #2: Golden bust of Paris Hilton having sex with Wilt Chamberlain.
NASA tech #1: Awesome...

I don't know about you... (5, Funny)

Ramsey-07 (737166) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936593)

....But hitting a rock on Independance day sounds like a bad idea, what if it's an Alien's rock?

We can't just keep going around the Solar system bashing things up that's not ours!

Re:I don't know about you... (5, Funny)

lxt (724570) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936604)

To be honest, I think I many more people wouldn't mind the White House being destroyed by aliens this time around... :)

Re:I don't know about you... (0, Flamebait)

Councilor Hart (673770) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936696)

You are an american, aren't you?
Destroying an entire building filled with a few hundred people in it, while actually you only want to take out one guy.

Oh, and stop asking us to do your dirty work.

Re:I don't know about you... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936824)

You are an american, aren't you? Destroying an entire building filled with a few hundred people in it, while actually you only want to take out one guy.

Sounds like an Israeli tactic to me.

Re:I don't know about you... (1, Insightful)

BeatlesForum.com (545967) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936782)

It's not a majority of people.

2004 Election Results [yahoo.com]

Re:I don't know about you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936792)

You know there are people who don't live in the US, right?

Re:I don't know about you... (1)

zpok (604055) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936856)

"It's not a majority of people."

Depending on your definition of "People". I'd say if your definition is all inclusive (US Americans), then we can debate till we're blue in the face.
If however you want to count in all the riff-raff, you can safely assume it's a vast majority. ;)

Re:I don't know about you... (1)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936843)

Personally I was hoping for your house.

Re:I don't know about you... (1)

Fishstick (150821) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936926)

Hey, if it is stupid enough to come close enough to the little blue planet with the angry monkeys with rockets, it's its* own fault!

If the aliens want to keep their comet from getting a bathtub-sized copper suppository, keep it the hell away from us!

* wow, I hope I used the correct forms of possesive and contractions so the grammar nazis leave me alone!

Bullet (-1, Redundant)

ceeam (39911) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936596)

A brick of copper the size of a bathtub? I wonder how much does it weigh (more than 4.7 tons I'm sure)? How much does it cost to lift up and throw to the comet? Also - why copper and what do hitchhiker's guide alusions do in my head?

RTFA (2, Informative)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936610)

820 pounds, from the first sentence of paragraph 3.

Re:RTFA (1)

ceeam (39911) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936617)

Nice bathtubs they have out there.

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936670)

"820 pounds"

Or about the same as a VW Beetle...

Silly question... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936601)

Why copper?

Is it because Tempel 1 is known to not contain any copper itself, so it makes the spectral signature easier to read?

Re:Silly question... (2, Informative)

MoonFog (586818) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936684)

Nobody's sure what will happen next. There's a small chance the impactor will blow the 2-½-mile-long comet to smithereens, or simply bore through it like a bullet through a snowball. More likely, scientists say, it will blast open a crater the size of a football stadium. It all depends on what Tempel 1 is made of, and how sturdily it is composed. Which is exactly what scientists hope to learn.

In essence it appears they don't know jack shit what it really contains.

Choice of metals (1)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936796)

Comets are usually ice and frozen gases (dry ice, ammonia ...etc.)

Heavy metals are very rare in comets . Also copper over iron , because copper is much more rarer than iron . Aluminium or Iron would be too common , silver/gold would be better than copper - but who can afford that :)

Re:Silly question... (5, Informative)

XenonDif (670717) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936783)

to quote NASA:

"The impactor is made primarily of copper (49%) as opposed to aluminum (24%) because it minimizes corruption of spectral emission lines that are used to analyze the nucleus."

http://deepimpact.jpl.nasa.gov/tech/impactor.html [nasa.gov]

Consequences of destroying a comet (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936608)

Are there any possible issues like destruction of important "environments"(if a comet could be called an evironment) if the comet is blown to pieces by this experiment? I mean, is it possible that important microorganisms or other important/rare/valuable occurences may be destroyed if this comment is blown up? It kind of reminds me of some of the unintended consequences of mans earlier forays into new environments on earth. I just wonder if these kind of scenarios have been considered.

Re:Consequences of destroying a comet (3, Funny)

Devalia (581422) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936622)

Or a young race on a planet far,far away who view the comet as a sign to reproduce.

Re:Consequences of destroying a comet (1)

Ianoo (711633) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936813)

You forgot about the even younger race who view exploding comets as a sign to reproduce, you insensitive clod!

Re:Consequences of destroying a comet (1)

VocabularyNazi (816686) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936652)

someone's sig on here sums up the whole driving force behind why these types of experiments are carried out:

--Rick "If it isn't broken, take it apart and find out why."

Re:Consequences of destroying a comet (2, Informative)

r.jimenezz (737542) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936865)

I mean, is it possible that important microorganisms or other important/rare/valuable occurences may be destroyed if this comment is blown up?

Nah... No offence intended but this is your run-of-the-mill, typical AC comment :)

Seriously though, you've got an interesting point. Even if no life is up there I wonder how smashing a comet affects things as a whole.

Morgan Freeman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936612)

Was Morgan Freeman involved in it in any way?

I'm waiting for the comethuggers... (3, Funny)

rseuhs (322520) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936619)

... to step up and tell us that we can't do that and we are destroying nature.

Re:I'm waiting for the comethuggers... (1)

f4llenang3l (834942) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936665)

Aw, hell, if they're that worried about it they can go chain themselves to the comet.
I wonder if NASA would still have the balls to keep the bathtub on-target then?

Is this comet, by any chance, the size of Texas? (1)

leonbrooks (8043) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936672)

We might have to send a crew of rednecks up to drill into it first.

23,000 mph (4, Insightful)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936623)

The article doesn't state if this velocity is relative to Cape Cod or relative to the comet. It makes a big difference.

Re:23,000 mph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936715)

I'd say it's the closing speed. It seems that the mass itself will have little velocity of it's own. (ref: Deer-on-highway allusion)

Comet's part of a national park (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936624)

Smash a comet?

Sorry, can't do it. It's part of a national park [slashdot.org] and thus must be kept in its pristine state.

Oops (1, Funny)

Savage Conan (736365) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936627)

I wonder if there is any danger of some chunks coming to Earth that would be large enough to survive the entry into our atmosphere and cause some damage at the white house? One can always hope.

Re:Oops (1)

Ramsey-07 (737166) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936980)

Doubtful, Why do you think we tried the Pretzel first?

Maybe next... (3, Interesting)

Tropaios (244000) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936629)

They'll develop a working missile defense system. All kidding aside how hard is it going to be to position this giant copper bullet in the path of a speeding comet? How acurately can they predict the comets path (whenever I here about near earth passes they are always given in wide ranges as to how near they actually came). So maybe I just naieve but the idea that we could hurl a giant block of metal into a comet traveling 23,000 miles per hour millions of miles away, I feel like a kid again at the wonderment.

mnb Re:Maybe next... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936707)

Hitting comet vs. Missile defense:

1.Long time to learn precise trajectory of comet vs. few minutes with missile.
2.One comet (and big at that) vs. multiple warheads and fake warheads x10.
3.Comet is in a microgravity enviroment, bullet could stop and wait for comet vs. warheads - where can you "wait" for warhead? - you would need constant thrust to maintain position.
4.You miss the comet NASA looks bad for a few weeks. vs. you miss the missile - some city looks bad forever.

Time is curved. (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936630)

That's the only answer...

Sadly (4, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936634)


Our comets are now under attack. Please join the Society for the Preservation of Comets, before it's too late.

Hopefully together we can make a difference. It's time to stop these bigoted scientists from damaging comets with bathtub size copper slugs, just "to see what will happen."

Without comets, there would be no space snowballs. This must stop.

I just know that... (5, Funny)

zecg (521666) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936641)

...NASA is lying. The comet is actually heading straight for Earth and the best plan they have is to launch a copper bathtub filled with Bruce Willis.

Re:I just know that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936891)

At least we'll have fun watching his rag-tag team of misfits as prissy Nasa scientists vainly try to get them in some sort of regular shape. Also be on the lookout for Russian comic relief.

Screw the bathtub... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936962)

Just launch Bruce Willis frozen in carbonite!!!

Re:I just know that... (1)

th3w4y (834992) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936995)

it is more plausible what you have written than what NASA is telling us

$311 million!! (1)

muditgarg (829569) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936643)

"Nobody's sure what will happen next"

Spending 311 million dollars without knowing what happens next doesnt seem a very nice idea.

Re:$311 million!! (5, Insightful)

XenonDif (670717) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936703)

Spending 311 million dollars without knowing what happens next doesnt seem a very nice idea.

Nasa is conducting the experiment precicely BECAUSE nobody know what will happen next. If we knew with certainty what was going to happen, THEN there wouldn't be a very good reason for carrying on with the experiment.

Last year they spent $200 billion blowing up comet Baghdad and we're all still waiting to see how that cliffhanger's going to end! This time it's cheaper and it doens't involve killing anybody.

Re:$311 million!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936737)

If they knew there would be no reason to do the experiment!

Re:$311 million!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936774)

No, spending $311 million on a scientific experiment , when you already knew what would happen would be a waste.

Re:$311 million!! (0, Troll)

zpok (604055) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936831)

I don't know, doesn't that happen all the time at Congress? Isn't that what neo-conservatism is all about?

"We don't know what'll happen, but we have faith in God, America and the Free Market - unless of course it isn't in our interest."

Seems almost refreshing after Reagan and Thatcher's "This is not happening." style of spending...

I'd rather they throw a few millions at a meteorite than countless billions at the army in the name of Peace and Democracy...

On that topic, there's a nice study floating around correlating the amount of the use of the word "Peace" used in political speeches with the subsequent use of violence against other nations... Go google if interested.

Re:$311 million!! (1)

muditgarg (829569) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936859)

What I meant is that they arent even sure whether it will drill a hole through it , blow it up , or create a crater i.e. they arent sure how deep a hole is it going to make , which is very critical as the article states

STOP NASA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936656)

My guess.... It'll be a huge bomb and will blow up the universe!

Re:STOP NASA! (1)

Ramsey-07 (737166) | more than 9 years ago | (#10937005)

Let us pray that it isn't filled with Nitric Acid, and comes back on a collission course, Copper reacts quite nicely with acids. "(NO is colorless. It goes on to react in air with oxygen to form brown NO2.)" -> http://dwb.unl.edu/Chemistry/MicroScale/MScale04.h tml/ [unl.edu]

Mighty Joe Young (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936659)



I cen see it now. Joe freaks out and hurls chunks of comet at earth while Fay's eye glazes over with shock. Helicopters swarm the air blaring Pennies From Heaven over huge loudspeakers. Trembling earthlings make their pleas to $deity(s) SUddenly Godzilla and Mothra appear out of nowhere. Godzilla hurls balls of magma in escort for mothra who flies toward the comet and Joe. Will mankind survive. Why did he mess with nature (again). Coming soon to a theatre near you. A NASA production.

The Original Plan (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936660)

Was to scour the earth and gather together the meanest ex-con alcoholic drilling team humankind has to offer, and land them on the comet with a couple of nuclear warheads for this experiment.

Unfortunately, the MPAA sent a cease and desist order to NASA informing them that this would be infringing on the IP of one of their client's copyrighted movies.

Hence, plan B involves throwing a bathtub at the comet instead. Go NASA!

NASA? Deep Impact? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936664)

... am I the only one who thought this was the name of a new NASA produced pr0n flick?

Re:NASA? Deep Impact? (1)

radio.cgt (582917) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936702)

yes.

Dumbing it down for fun & profit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936671)

More likely, scientists say, it will blast open a crater the size of a football stadium.

The copper hammer, equipped with a camera, guidance and maneuvering systems, will move directly into the comet's path, like a deer stepping in front of a speeding pickup truck.

Deer in front of pickups? Ugh! Bathtub-sized bullets, (American) tons of TNT... sadly no VW cars mentioned, but I've got my fingers crossed for the follow-up article!

Weapon test? (4, Interesting)

datadriven (699893) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936677)

Is this a test of a planetary defence system? Imagine if the dinosaurs could have had one of those.

End of the Earth? (3, Interesting)

miaDWZ (820679) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936679)

Am I the only one who feels this is the start to a disaster movie?

"The year is 2004, and the scientists of the day decide to crack open a comet with a bullet the size of a bathtub. But then the unthinkable happens. The comet bullet causes the comet to change path and come right towards Earth and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Will all Earth will be destroyed? Will our hero be able to save the world? There is only one way to find out..."

Coming to cinemas everywhere this Summer.

Why do I want to break out my atari (4, Funny)

Da w00t (1789) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936692)

... and play asteroids? 8-)
> . . O
I can just see the "bullet" hitting the asteroid, but .. we've only got one bullet, so how in the heck are we going to deal with the bits of asteroid from the big one? I mean, the entire point of firing up on the asteroid in the first place was to vaporise it. They think one shot will do it? C'mon, we all know from experience that you have to break it down to advnace to the next level.

NOT AN asteroid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936755)

...Comets are known (thought) to be less solid than asteroids, most (not sure about this one) seem to be made largely of ice. You can imagine how dangerous these iceballs might be if they were to enter the atmosphere, but I like water vapor, even with unknown additives, over pieces of rock, if it fragments. It does seem like a less invasive technique might be available, why kill a comet (with unknown ramifications)if you don't have to.

Re:Why do I want to break out my atari (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936820)

That was my favorite game, but I don't think that's why NASA is doing this.

Potential reasons:
1. If you recall, one space problem is "space junk" including tiny particles that hit spacecraft and can disable them or satellites. This shooting of the comet will definitely create more space junk, enabling us to disable our own satellites.
2. God didn't create spacecraft, so this is our way of destroying them.
3. We couldn't get a good rock band to play for GWB in DC this Independence Day, so we decided to go for a good rock instead.
4. We're really trying to get a reason to build a giant oil supertanker that can REALLY screw up our environment in one accident, so we're hoping for oil...

Uh.... does this strike anybody else as wrong? (4, Insightful)

John_Booty (149925) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936710)

I've loved astronomy on a casual basis since childhood and I think it's important to mankind. I'm not one of those people who thinks we should abandon NASA spending because there are still underprivilidged marmasets living in a swamp somewhere or whatever.

But isn't this kind of, uh... wrong? Possibily destroying a comet? It seems so destructive to possibly break apart something that's been circling our sun for millions of years.

I understand that comets are more like "dirty snowballs" than things of infinite beauty, and I can definitely understand the scientific reasons for this mission because they're going to get all kinds of data that they couldn't get otherwise.

This seems kind of wrong to me, though.

Re:Uh.... does this strike anybody else as wrong? (5, Insightful)

f4llenang3l (834942) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936726)

It seems so destructive to possibly break apart something that's been circling our sun for millions of years.
Have you looked out your window recently?

Re:Uh.... does this strike anybody else as wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936776)

Exactly...

There are tens of thousands of Comets, but only one earth... That should be our main concern.

Re:Uh.... does this strike anybody else as wrong? (4, Interesting)

JerkBoB (7130) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936814)

Possibily destroying a comet? It seems so destructive to possibly break apart something that's been circling our sun for millions of years.

Interesting set of priorities there... As for me, I can't wait until we get our act together enough to start mining all of those eons-old lumps of raw material instead of strip-mining our planet.

Re:Uh.... does this strike anybody else as wrong? (-1, Flamebait)

Nate B. (2907) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936815)

Yes it does. I'm quite surprised that this hasn't hit the major media outlets and caused a stir. I'm sure it probably will as July 4th draws near.

I think that it is one thing to send a probe to something and explore/sample it in as non-destructive manner as possible, but it's quite another to (perhaps) wantonly destroy something. We don't have the slightest clue about a comet's purpose other than it's eye-candy in our sky. I'd be very interested to see why and how this one got through all the layers of bureaucracy as a Good Idea (TM).

At first glance this just seems like a poor idea with possible ramifications we can't fathom. But then, I don't know as much as a rocket scientist...

Re:Uh.... does this strike anybody else as wrong? (2, Interesting)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936896)

You could make this "hands off" argument for anything. Moon rovers/landings, mars rovers, etc.

The question is, "Should we remain in ignorance to keep things pristine?"

Historically the answer is no and ethically it seems to be working pretty well. Comets that pass through our system number what? In the tens of thousands? More? I don't think this is as controversial as you might think, especially considering we've dropped all sorts of detritus and other "bullet-like" techniques (crashing stuff into planets) for science.

So what does the comet think of this? (3, Funny)

Grey Ninja (739021) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936728)

What happens if the comet doesn't like being shot with the world's biggest bullet, and decides to come after us? Has NASA factored this into their plans?

Re:So what does the comet think of this? (1)

adam mcmaster (697132) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936799)

Don't worry, they have Bruce Willis on speed dial, just incase.

NASA Website (4, Informative)

themo0c0w (594693) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936735)

This project has been around since 2001; probably a dup /. article somewhere... Anyway, here is the NASA website, which gives more details on the mission.

http://deepimpact.jpl.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov]

Re: NASA's Deep Impact (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936785)

This would make a great Mythbusters episode: can you launch a copper bathtub into space and destroy a comet? Cue the narrator: "Adam and Jamie are eager to send the crash dummy Buster into space in his homemade copper spaceship, and hope that he'll live to tell the tale."

Er, what if we change the trajectory JUST enough.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936808)

Anyone care to see what happens the next time this sucker does a flyby?

"What do you mean it's going to hit us this time?"

stupid thing to be done (0, Troll)

th3w4y (834992) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936811)

this does not sound logic at all...

if the chemical composition of the comet it is unknown, how "safe" it is to force it in an explosion with cooper...?

if it is known to be "safe" for the comet to interact with cooper in that explosion, then the chemical composition of the comet it is already KNOWN and that makes NO reason for the experiment.


sounds to me that NASA is like a little 3 years child that want's to play with fire...

Breaking Things (1)

Mr_Blank (172031) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936945)

The geeks at NASA never really grew up: Their jobs are all about neat toys and breaking things.

Amazing that despite all our centuries of civilized sophistication the best way to figure out how things work is still to break them. Kids break clocks. Cooks break locks. NASA breaks giant icy rocks.

I'm just glad the Beagle team aren't doing this... (2, Funny)

myc_lykaon (645662) | more than 9 years ago | (#10936955)

With our track record for slamming into things we should bounce off and hitting things we should miss, I'm certain that it would be one of the few missions to miss the thing we should hit...

Captains additional: Does this mean we can add 'bath tub' to the ISO weights and measures along with VW Beetle, football field and 18 wheel truck?

wrong! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10936984)

you can't play god nasa!!!
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