Saturday, September 21, 2013

Retirement Party

Alas, all good things come to an end. The Deep Impact vehicle, which successfully explored Comet Tempel 1 in 2005, and then was "repurposed" to a new mission, has not been heard from in over a month. The biggest shame?
After losing contact with the spacecraft last month, mission controllers spent several weeks trying to uplink commands to reactivate its onboard systems. Although the exact cause of the loss is not known, analysis has uncovered a potential problem with computer time tagging that could have led to loss of control for Deep Impact's orientation. That would then affect the positioning of its radio antennas, making communication difficult, as well as its solar arrays, which would in turn prevent the spacecraft from getting power and allow cold temperatures to ruin onboard equipment, essentially freezing its battery and propulsion systems.
Thanks, Deep Impact! You had a fantastic run!

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