COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The surviving portion of the Deep Impact space probe that watched as its other half smashed into a comet on July 4 is being sent on a mission to study another comet.
Researchers hope information gathered from Boethin will help further the understanding of how comets formed and evolved and if they played a role in the emergence of life on Earth.
On Independence Day, an 820-pound copper probe separated from Deep Impact and collided with comet Tempel 1 while instruments on Deep Impact and Earth-based telescopes watched to see what the wreckage would reveal about the comet.
The new mission won't involve a collision. Instead, Deep Impact will pass Boethin in December 2008 so its instruments can examine the comet.
The spacecraft remains healthy, said Deep Impact astronomer Michael A'Hearn.