Deep Impact lost due to software failure

NASA has officially recognized the loss of the Deep Impact spacecraft and is stopping attempts to contact it. Radio communication with the device was lost in August, presumably due to a software malfunction. Since then, engineers have tried to make contact, but to no avail.


Deep impact
Deep Impact is a spacecraft launched in 2005 to study Comet Tempel 1. He was able to drop a 370-pound copper impactor probe onto the comet, which rammed the surface of the cosmic body by taking close-up shots of the comet's nucleus. A peculiar space show with a flash and the release of dust fireworks took place on July 4, 2005, right on Independence Day.


Flash on Comet Tempel's surface 1
Dust cloud behind comet after collision

After that historic mission, Deep Impact flew a lot around the solar system. In November 2010, he approached a distance of 700 km from the nucleus of comet 103P / Hartley.

The last successful communication session with the device occurred on August 8, 2013. According to preliminary estimates, the disconnection occurred due to an unknown malfunction in the computer program Deep Impact. For several weeks, specialists tried to transfer commands to on-board computer systems. The analysis shows some software malfunctions with time stamping in the on-board system, which is why Deep Impact lost its orientation in space - and, accordingly, lost the ability to send radio antennas to Earth, which made communication difficult. Due to the loss of orientation, the solar panels turned away from the Sun, which probably already led to a loss of energy, freezing the battery and on-board systems. So now it makes no sense to continue trying to revive the device.

It's time to say goodbye to a space mission veteran. During his service, Deep Impact not only fulfilled the main mission, but also several additional ones. "He overcame 7.58 billion km, passing the Earth much more scientific data than originally planned," - reported in the NASA press release. In total, Deep Impact transmitted approximately 500,000 photographs of various astronomical objects to the earth.

At the time of his death, Deep Impact was also on a mission - he was heading for a meeting with comet Ison , which amateur astronomers from Belarus and Russia discovered in September 2012. It was assumed that this comet first flew into the solar system, so its study could be interesting. By the way, from November 2013 to January 2014 this comet can be observed in the sky with the naked eye. Since its brightness will be comparable to the brightness of the moon, the comet ISON claims to be the brightest comet of the first half of the 21st century.