July: Big month for NASA

A little after midnight (EDT), Deep Impact will strike Comet Tempel 1.

This satellite mission will examine comet composition because the impact will eject materials from the comet. The satellite is composed of two parts: the flyby satellite which has various imaging devices and the impactor which will hit the comet. It is 816 pounds and about the size of a coffee table. Hitting the comet at 23,000 mph will produce a crater on the comet and blast materials into space which the flyby unit will measure.

Below is a data figure. The left image is a visual of the comet and the right image is spectrometer readings that gives data on the chemical composition of the comet.

Image source: http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/figures/PIA02100_fig1.jpg

On the manned spaceflight side, Discovery is scheduled for liftoff on July 13.

Crew for STS-114. Front row: (right to left) Eileen M. Collins, Wendy B. Lawrence and James M. Kelly. Back row: (left to right) Stephen K. Robinson, Andrew S. W. Thomas, Charles J. Camarda and Soichi Noguchi. Image source: http://spaceflight1.nasa.gov/gallery/images/shuttle/sts-114/lores/sts114-s-002.jpg

Can you figure out who the commander of the mission is?

On the front row, on the right is Commander Eileen Collins.