PI Update - January 2004
The biggest recent event for Deep Impact has been the encounter of the Stardust spacecraft with comet Wild 2. It is clear from the publicly released information that the encounter was a tremendous success. The pictures in the press suggest that comet Wild 2 has much more small-scale vertical structure, i.e., many more features that look like depressions of various sorts, than did comet Borrelly as photographed by the Deep Space 1 spacecraft. In their second press conference, the team also showed that most of the dust that the spacecraft encountered came in three discrete bursts, something of a surprise to us on the Deep Impact team. Over the next few months, we will be assessing what the results from Stardust mean for Deep Impact. One conclusion already is that we should continue to expect surprises, even though we have now data from flying through several comets.