Launch Vehicle: Delta II
Launch Date: Jan. 12, 2005
Weight: 2,249 lbs. at launch
Model Scale: 1/4
Deep Impact was designed to help scientists learn more about what makes up a comet. Built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., NASA's two-part Deep Impact spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on a mission to crash a small impactor into a comet. During July 2005 it did just that. An 820 lb. (370 kg) probe with a copper core was released from the main spacecraft to strike the Comet Tempel 1. It released a plume of material that surprised scientists because it contained more dust and less ice than expected. The probe also found that the comet's nucleus was very porous, with up to 80 percent empty space. Since then, Deep Impact was repurposed and sent on a new mission that included a visit flying past the Comet Hartley in 2010.
NOTE: The Deep Impact spacecraft continues to operate and although it won't fly by it, the probe is now being used to look at the Comet ISON. It may have the potential to be big enough and bright enough to be seen in our sky during the day.