T-minus two weeks and counting till NASA closes their
passenger list for a one-way trip to comet Tempel 1. On January
31 NASA’s Deep Impact mission will end its campaign to launch
the names of space enthusiasts who want to make a deep impact
on a comet.

On July 4, 2005, the Deep Impact spacecraft will impact a
copper projectile about the size of a garbage can into the
surface of a frozen ball of ice and rock, comet Temple 1,
creating a crater about the size of a football stadium. A CD
containing the names of those who signed on board for this one-
way trip to a celestial snowball will be literally obliterated
along with the 370-kilogram (816 pound) copper-tipped impactor.

When the impactor reaches out and touches Temple 1 at about
37,000 kilometers (22,990 miles) per hour, Deep Impact’s flyby
spacecraft will collect pictures and data. The flyby spacecraft
will send its data back to Earth in near real time through the
antennas of the Deep Space Network. Simultaneously,
professional and amateur astronomers on Earth will observe the
ejecta flying from the comet’s newly formed crater adding to
the data and images collected by the Deep Impact spacecraft and
other space telescopes.

“This is an opportunity to become part of an extraordinary
space mission,” said Dr. Don Yeomans, an astronomer at JPL and
a member of the Deep Impact science team. “When the craft is
launched in December 2004, yours and the names of your loved-
ones can hitch along for the ride and be part of what may be
the best space fireworks show in history.”

Deep Impact is the first deep-space mission that will really
reach out and touch a comet. Mission scientists are confident
such an intimate glimpse beneath the surface of a comet, where
material and debris from the formation of the solar system
remain relatively unchanged, will answer basic questions about
the formation of the solar system as well as getting a better
look at the nature and composition of these celestial

“This campaign will allow people from around the world to
become directly involved with the Deep Impact mission and
through that, get them thinking about the scientific reasons
for the mission,” said University of Maryland astronomy
professor, Dr. Michael A’Hearn, Deep Impact’s principal
investigator. “We particularly hope to capture the interest of
young students, as they will become the explorers of the next

People may submit their names for this historic one-way mission
by visiting NASA’s Deep Impact Web site through January 31 at:


The University of Maryland in College Park is home to A’Hearn,
who oversees the scientific investigations. Project manager,
Rick Grammier, from JPL, manages and operates the Deep Impact
mission for NASA’s Office of Space Science, Washington. JPL is
managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in
Pasadena. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation in Boulder,
Colo. manages the spacecraft development.

Deep Impact was selected in 1999 as a NASA Discovery mission.
The goal of the Discovery Program is to launch smaller, low
cost capped missions studying new science questions. The main
objective is to enhance understanding of the solar system by
exploring the planets, their moons, and small bodies, such as
comets and asteroids.

Information about the Deep Impact mission is available on the
Internet at: