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October 15 Speaker: Dr. Diane Wooden, on what we have learned from Deep Impact

David Smith


What are comets? What are they made of, and how are they structured? People have long been amazed, mystified, inspired, and even terrified by comets. Scientifically, they are interesting in their own right, but also because they are time capsules dating back to the formation of the solar system. They are deep freezers containing some of the ice and dust present at the formation of the giant planets.

On July 4, 2005 (Universal Time), the impactor from the Deep Impact spacecraft smashed at high speed into Comet Tempel 1, an event monitored by the main spacecraft, and by astronomers on Earth. What has been learned from these observations of the comet and the material blasted out of it? We will learn about this from our October 15 speaker, Dr. Diane Wooden, who is an astrophysicist at NASA Ames Research Center.

Dr. Wooden received her Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics from UC Santa Cruz in 1979, and has worked at Ames Research Center since 1983. She studies the origins and evolution of cosmic dust, and has been involved with the Deep Impact mission.


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