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Deep Impact Comet-Smashing Video 133

DynaSoar writes "Dan Maas is the animation expert who produced NASA's Mars Rover animation which was subsequently used in the PBS Nova episodes 'Mars, Dead or Alive' and 'Welcome to Mars,' the majority of which was done while he was a Cornell student on a summer internship at NASA. His most recent release is NASA's best 'artist's conception' of the Tempel 1 Deep Impact mission. Nobody knows what will happen when 820 pounds of metal slams into the comet with 5 kilotons of force, but whatever happens, Maas's digital precreation is probably way more entertaining than NASA's imagery is likely to be. Two versions of the Deep Impact QuickTime video are available. A couple notes of interest: the original Mars video was produced as a music video, using Lenny Kravitz and Holst as soundtracks. This is available only to K-12 educators. Also, in the interview in the first link, when asked for an inspirational quote, he quotes John Carmack."
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Deep Impact Comet-Smashing Video

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  • by Musteval ( 817324 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @10:34AM (#12914004)
    Then NASA can make a TV show. It'd increase funding, at least. Heck, make a reality show. Send people to Venus and see how long it takes them to realize they're going to die.
    • by Eric Coleman ( 833730 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @10:43AM (#12914043)
      NASA already has a TV channel. You can watch rocket launches, which are cool, and watch people work in mission control, which is boring. Reality TV doesn't get much more real than the NASA TV channel.
      • NASA TV (Score:4, Funny)

        by jspoon ( 585173 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @11:13AM (#12914170)
        What they need is to put up a mission with an ordinary guy on board, someone the people can relate to. Just send up plenty of carbon rods and they'll be perfectly safe.
        • This is Big Brother.

          jspoon, you have been voted out of the Big Brother spaceship.
          You have 30 seconds to go to the airlock.
        • Yes, inanimate carbon rods shall save the day!


          Tom: Uh, how'd you solve the door dilemma?
          Buzz: Homer Simpson was the real hero here. He jury-rigged the door closed using this.
          Man 1: Hey, what is that?
          Man 2: It's an inanimate carbon rod!
          Everyone: Yay!
        • Re:NASA TV (Score:2, Insightful)

          You mean like Christa McAuliffe? She was the grade school teacher who was on board the Challenger in 1986.
      • CRTC allows my cable company to broadcast the golf channel, the gay channel, the porn channel, the home shopping network, but not the NASA channel. And the government wonders why the brain drain to the States. Sheesh.
      • I believe that in "Red Mars" Book (from the Mars Trilogy) one of the ways of getting funds to send all the people they send to mars is a sort of reality show. And I wonder WHY the NASA doesnt make it with - for example - the in day life inside the shuttle. Im sure a lot of advertisers would love their "product placement" in the ISS.
    • The Discovery channel already does this crap. "What would evolution be like in 40,000 years on Earth?" or "How we Explored a new world in the future". Honestly, it's nausiating enough that we don't need NASA throwring in as well.
  • by Transcendent ( 204992 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @10:41AM (#12914035)
    Is if running this damn thing into the comet puts it on a trajectory to hit Earth down the line...

    Talk about one of the biggest "oops" of all time...
    • by ytm ( 892332 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @10:47AM (#12914056) Homepage
      From TFA:
      The kinetic energy that will be released by the collision is estimated to be the equivalent of nearly 5 tons of TNT. However, this will only change the comet's velocity by about 0.0001 millimeters per second (0.014 inches per hour). The collision will not appreciably modify the orbital path of Tempel 1, which poses no threat to Earth now or in the foreseeable future.
      You would need much heavier (or faster) probe to change comet's path significantly.
      • "You would need much heavier (or faster) probe to change comet's path significantly."

        Yeah. So they say. It's "insignificant". And yet I go other places where I read about a butterfly in Mexico affecting New England weather, about how turbulence is poorly understood and often unexpected results occur.. but, sure, it's all perfectly safe.

        • Uh. Space is a near vaccum. What turbulence are you going to experience?

          F=MA is the driving force of the cosmos. This comet isn't going to make a u-turn towards earth because a 800lb projectile hits it.

          Why not look at the actual orbit of the comet, vs earths orbit and compute the DV required for the 2 orbits to intersect.

          Tempel-1 isn't even a NEA. The orbit doesn't even cross the orbit of the earth.
          • Tempel-1 isn't even a NEA. The orbit doesn't even cross the orbit of the earth.

            However, the orbit does occasionally pass near Jupiter. This makes its orbit chaotic and unpredictable over the very long term.

            One day, its orbit may get significantly altered by one or more close encounters to planets. It might end up being ejected from the solar system, sent into the sun, put into an earth-intersecting orbit, or countless other possibilities. It's unlikely that it will stay in its current orbit indefinite

            • That sounds alot like what chaos theory is all about, the possibility of a small event having a huge impact in the future. An example of this would be two sine curves which are initially only different by a fraction of a degree but after a long period of time would be completely different.
          • The point wasn't that you could experience turbulence. The point is that there are a lot of things we really don't understand well. Turbulence is one of those things, and gravity is another.

            It probably is insignificant. And if it isn't, an Earth threatening result from being wrong is surely only one possibility of many billions. But I still dislike the hubris of scientists pretending they really understand physics, gravity, etc. Maybe soon, but sure not now.
            • What are you talking about? Gravity is extremely well understood, even if we don't have a quantum theory for it. Newton could have done the exact same calculation and come up with the same answer. Turbulence is a hairy problem, with limited understanding of many aspects, but we know some things about it. Like the fact that it doesn't enter orbital mechanics.

              How can it be Hubris? A scientist does the calculations to lift an object out of a gravity well, sling it around a few planets, smack it into a tiny ta

              • Gravity extremely well understood? Yeah, right.

                Nor is it billiard ball physics: do you remember that part of the reason for doing this is to find out more about the makeup and structure? Do you know its center of mass, for instance? And have you forgotten that there are zillions of other things zipping around out there?

                But as I said, it probably is insignificant and if it isn't, then there's so much confusion associated that it doesn't matter. It's still hubris to pretend that you have any real knowledg
          • No the original post is absolutely correct.

            We know nothing about the interior of the comet.

            If there is a high-pressure gas in the interior, or an ignitable chemical, then even a very small impact could create a jet-like opening in the comet.

            The resulting ejecta could take many, many years to complete.

            And, if so, then the comet would significantly alter its trajectory.

            This sort of mission is extremely prone to chaotic/compounded influences.
    • by kfg ( 145172 )
      This would be roughly equivilent to trying to hit your house with a dead elephant by giving it a push with your hands. . .from thirty miles away.

    • Actually what few people know is that the impact is supposed to knock it off it's current trajectory to avoid a collision with earth. Obviously they don't want to announce the possible collision to the public as it would cause panic.
  • haha (Score:4, Funny)

    by pHatidic ( 163975 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @10:44AM (#12914045)
    I clicked to watch the short version, and it just said "done." Well that sure was short.

    PS top floor of the NASA building was ranked as one of the top ten places to have sex in public on Cornell campus. Not that I'd know or anything.

  • we're wasting our taxpayers money on a comet that's not even going to hit on Earth? I find that incredibly silly.

    Why else would we fund billions of dollars to build a spaceship designed to hit a comet that's not going to hit us?
    • Maybe they are just curious if comets are made of snow or cheese.
    • Re:deep impact? (Score:3, Informative)

      by PoitNarf ( 160194 )
      Obviously you haven't read anything about this mission at all. The goal of this mission is to blast debris out from inside of the comet so that we can understand what it is actually composed of. Notice how the spacecraft launches a projectile at the comet, and then slows down to stay out of the way so that it can scan the particles that spew out of the crater?

      Anyway, I'm pretty sure we don't have the means currently to deflect a large comet or asteroid like they did in Armageddon or something like that.
    • I'd rather we tried this out on a comet that definately *isn't* going to hit us, than on one that is. If it doesn't work we at least get the chance of another go.
    • If we knew a comet was going to hit us, 100% sure, I doubt we would send just 820 pounds at the thing and hope for a miracle. So far, I do not believe there is any comet that is 100% going to hit us. Of course, determining anything to be 100% would be hard, but c'mon, 820 pounds aint gonna stop a big ass comet.
    • practice?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...Ron Jeremy or Peter North.
  • by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @10:49AM (#12914063) Journal
    Site was sluggish and can't remember if we've ever slashdotted NASA before :)

    Long []
    Short []

    and what the hell Torrent Too []
  • by sittingnut ( 88521 ) <> on Sunday June 26, 2005 @10:51AM (#12914074) Homepage
    We are now so used to manipulated or visualized eye candy of space and planets, that when the real images etc. are released (as with Titan) its very anticlimactic and boring.
  • I'm just glad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DanielMarkham ( 765899 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @10:52AM (#12914078) Homepage
    I'm just glad that NASA is finally blowing something up. Enough of these silly robots and picutres, send in some TNT! (I think they call this "active science")

    Blowing things up is always more interesting to the public than plain science missions. Perhaps next we can send some of those old ICMS to the moon. That would be a good show.

    Seriously, NASA has been politicized so much over its entire history. Perhaps publicity impact should be a key factor in planning missions. It certainly couldn't hurt, and it could lead to a lot more funding for them
  • 5 kilotons of force? (Score:2, Informative)

    by laurens ( 151193 )

    Nobody knows what will happen when 820 pounds of metal slams into the comet with 5 kilotons of force

    ...Largely due to the fact that nobody knows what the hell the phrase "5 kilotons of force" means in an impact situation, even if we forgive the use of tons as a force unit.

    Or are we talking about an amount of energy equivalent to that released by 5 kilotons of TNT (probable)? Then say so. This is bad science, people. The kind that gets Ariane rockets blown up.

    • Replying to self after reading TFA. The writeup is even worse, it 3 orders of magnitude off.

      Come on. From the article:
      During its final moments, the impactor will take the closet images of comet's surface ever. The kinetic energy that will be released by the collision is estimated to be the equivalent of nearly 5 tons of TNT.
      • One thing I've discovered regarding the media and explaining/describing something scientific, is that they often royally screw it up. So often I read interviews that I've done for a local paper and say to myself "That's completely wrong! Argh!"
    • And ofcourse the last sentence in my post should read

      "The kind that sends Climate Orbiters crashing into Mars."

      Sorry folks. I'll stop talking to meself now.

    • What are you talking about? tons IS a force unit.
      2,000 pound force = 8,896.44323 newtons (from google)

      You might think we imperal units people are crazy because we have pounds force and pounds mass, but we think you metric people are crazy because although you have kgs mass and newtons force, you seem to prefer to use kgs force and ignore the concept of mass altogether.[siderant off]
    • "Kiloton" could possibly be interpreted to mean 2 million pounds, which is indeed a measure of force. But that's sheer coincidence and clearly not what the writer intended. What they intended was, er, some big numbers and physics words that sound really impressive. Make big boom! Whee!
  • 5 tons (Score:4, Informative)

    by Karamchand ( 607798 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @10:53AM (#12914089)
    It would be really cool if at least the submitters of new stories read their linked articles; the page clearly states that there won't be 5 kilotons, but the equivalent of 5 tons of TNT.
  • by varmittang ( 849469 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @10:55AM (#12914099)
    We hope the mission is a Smashing success.
  • The impactor will hit the comet with a force equivalent to five tons of tnt. It will probably produce a crater anywhere from a few yards across to the size of a football stadium.

  • Who's got a remix of all the amazing CG from movies like _Deep Impact_, _Independence Day_, _Godzilla 2000_, _The Day After Tomorrow_, and every other blockbuster wherein huge landmark cities are convincingly destroyed? I'd love to see a clever montage of all the "money shots". That would beat all the original movies, even if just by editing out the dialog, characters and plots.
  • by szyzyg ( 7313 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @11:25AM (#12914236)
    From the days when I was still an astronomer
    Impact video [] mostly fragments, looking kinda dated now. Of course I must include my essential link to the most complete map [] of the inner solar system.

    And I recently re-did some density visualizations [], a lot. more abstract, but cool in a trippy visuals kinda way.

    And finally - the most relevant - is an old movie I made to visualize a comet diverting mission, it's about 10 minutes and if shows a spacecraft [] flying through space with a nuke intended to give a nidge to an incoming comet. It's not great resolution, but I can't find the high definition versions that were used in a couple of TV shows. There are some ultra high definition stills in a book by Duncan Steel.

  • What the hell man there's no sound in that video! What a cheap production. I mean come on, do they think there's no sound in space or something???

    .....wait a minute...
  • At first I though that they were about to blown this thing into pieces. Now, after seeing the video, I know that they are only going to crate a small crater at one side. Why not use 5 megatons instead of just 5 tons while you're at it? I mean, it's one of the very few space missions that something interesting actually happens. Why not make it more spectacular then?
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LurkerXXX ( 667952 )
      Because they don't want to blow it into pieces. They just want to blow a hole in part of it to see what it's made of and how solidly it is held togeather. A 5 ton charge is plenty for that.

      If they were to send up a vehicle capable of hitting it with 5 megatons, that would either require launching a vehicle of~ 1,000,000 times greather mass (and launching heavy stuff into space is expensive enough, let alone increasig the mass 1 million x), or you would have to send a nuclear bomb rather than a kenetic/

      • If launches fail, it falls into the Atlantic Ocean. If it's far enough out to be past it, it's already high enough to burn up in the atmosphere. Or at least fall into the forest in Africa, which isn't exactly downtown Shanghai.
  • That we can maneuver two vehicles far from earth, coordinated and with precision, shows how far mankind has advanced...

    (Of course, this assumes that it all actually works.)
  • Keep in mind that the whole impactor crash plus spacecraft flyby will only require a small fraction of a second.

    Quoting [] Rick Grammier, a mission project manager from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena: "If I ran this clip at the speed of the actual encounter, you wouldn't have seen anything. It would have been all over in the blink of an eye."

  • If the telescope defect was detectable before launch, whomever was responsible for making that check should have lost their job due to the telescope being out of focus. []

    The press release is a masterpiece of indirection. It takes them 5 paragraphs to admit they have a problem and then this little gem:

    "This in no way will affect our ability to impact the comet on July 4," said Rick Grammier, Deep Impact project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif. "Everyone on the science and

    • If the telescope defect was detectable before launch, whomever was responsible for making that check should have lost their job due to the telescope being out of focus.

      Forgive my bluntness--I think you need to be a bit more mindful of the fact that launching something into orbit is a lot different from rolling a new vehicle off an assembly line. For that matter, the same goes for building these devices; for all we know, the chain of responsibility likely doesn't end at NASA but at another company.


      • If I recall correctly from an earlier release about Deep Impact's camera, it was incorrectly calibrated which lead to it being out of focus. This probably wasn't the result of a hardware defect but over a miscommunication; if it were a hardware defect, can you justify firing someone over something like this?

        Yes you can. The people who designed the machine were paid to get it done right. Had the error been due to something unpredictable, that's one thing. But if it was due to a screwup like one team talking

        • I can guarantee you there isn't nearly the level of accountability in privately held corporations.

          That's simply not true. When a company fails to deliver the goods, it goes out of business.

          Generally, the company that failed to deliver the good goes back and fixes the mistake, free of charge. That obviously isn't an option here.

          I didn't get fired when I caused ~$30,000 of damage to a customer's piece of equipment. My companies attitude was basically "learn from your mistake". And then we went a

    • Although they may be "very excited and looking forward to the encounter", they won't be able to see the results very well.

      Well... actually, it depends on how you define "they." And if "they" are "everyone on the science and engineering teams," that includes a lot of people who aren't hunkered down over screens at JPL. In fact, academics outnumber NASA folks on the science team [].

      I only know the whereabouts of one science team member on that fateful night - my colleague at U. of Hawaii's Institute

  • shows up because we are now threatening not only our own safety but the rest of the galaxy as well. Chances are, somebody is out there, and chances are this would probably cause them to go 'oh sh!$'.
  • Deep Impact is scheduled to occur on Jul 3rd at around 7:20 or so (my notes are not right handy at the moment). Luckly, here in Hawai'i the impact will be overhead, after the sun has gone down, with the impact side facing us.

    A number of the observatories on Mauna Kea are planning on turning their telescopes to watch and record the event. I'm fairly sure that Keck, Gemini and Subaru domes will be observing and recording the event (The Subaru primary mirror is 27 feet in diameter, should make for a good vi

  • I'm sure all of the insensitive clods out there have Quicktime installed, but for the rest of us who don't want bloatware, can somebody please convert it to some other format and post a link?

    And can someone please write a .mov codec and winamp plugin? That'd be great, thanks.
  • I believe that the impactor will awaken some long-dormant horror, entombed in the icy heart of the comet.

    The science returns will be cold comfort when our skies are blackened by chill wings of He Who Slumbers.

    Not wanting to become His breakfast, I, for one, will welcome our new alien overlord.

    Oh! The lidless eyes! Ia! Ia! Where is your God now?
  • Mars Rover IMAX (Score:3, Interesting)

    by captaineo ( 87164 ) on Sunday June 26, 2005 @09:41PM (#12917293)
    Hah pretty funny to wake up and see myself on the front page :).

    Three other artists and I are currently working on an IMAX film about the Mars Rover mission, to be released sometime next year. The image quality will be much better than my old NASA animation. We are re-creating the Rovers' actual environments on Mars using returned images and terrain data.
    • Regarding the Carmack quote - Although I don't know John personally, I have learned a tremendous amount reading his source code and technical essays. It was only fitting to mention him. I had to avoid being specific about his work since the interview was for a children's site :)

      I'm going to totally abuse my five minutes of Slashdot fame here - I'm planning an extended trip to Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan this winter. If you live in one of those places and want to get in touch please drop me an email (d
  • The alien overlords are going to be upset.

    Here they disguise all their spacecraft as asteroids or comets, and you go and damage them!
    Sheesh, humans, didn't you know that this one was their external swimming pool?

Don't get suckered in by the comments -- they can be terribly misleading. Debug only code. -- Dave Storer