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Deep Impact's 2nd Target Anomaly or What Happened to Comet 85P/Boethin?

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posted on Jan, 1 2008 @ 09:25 AM

A comet targeted for a flyby with NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft cannot be found, forcing mission planners to send the probe to a different comet. The comet may have evaded telescopes simply because its predicted orbit was incorrect, or, more intriguingly, it might have disintegrated completely.
The Deep Impact spacecraft completed its main mission in 2005, when it slammed a metal impactor into comet Tempel 1 and watched the debris fly. After the successful encounter with Tempel 1, the mission team had hoped to carry out a second rendezvous, this time with a comet called 85P/Boethin, in late 2008.


Well, what do you know about that? Deep Impact blasts Tempel 1 with a copper projectile in 2005, and now its second target can't be found. Interesting that a comet seen only twice before would be targeted to begin with, but now they can't find it at all? Theories abound as to what happened to comet 85P/Boethin.

Deep Impact discussion

It is possible that the comet was destroyed during the 1997 Sun encounter, disintegrating from the Sun's heat.... But comet Boethin never comes closer to the Sun than just beyond Earth's orbit, making it unlikely to have disintegrated.... A somewhat more likely possibility is that the comet broke into a few large chunks that are still intact but have drifted too far from the original comet's orbit to have been spotted in searches to date... the most likely explanation of all is that telescopes have simply been searching in the wrong place...

Okey-dokey. Comets sure are acting funny these days, aren't they?

Obscure Comet Brightens Suddenly

Meanwhile, Deep Impact is now scheduled to rendezvous with comet Hartley 2 in 2010. If that one disappears or changes course, I will really start to wonder what is going on.

The Deep Impact probe zipped past Earth Monday, the first of three flybys designed to use the planet's gravity to hurtle the spacecraft toward comet Hartley 2 for a 2010 meeting.

The new mission, known as Epoxi, calls for Deep Impact to travel 1.6 billion miles to reach Hartley 2, which will be about 12 million miles from Earth at the time of the encounter. Deep Impact will hover 550 miles from the half mile-wide surface and use its two telescopes and infrared spectrometer to map features and record gas outbursts.

On its way to the comet, Deep Impact will spend six months using one of its telescopes to search for Earth-sized planets around five nearby stars, which are known to have Jupiter-like planets orbiting them.


[edit on 1-1-2008 by Icarus Rising]

posted on Jan, 1 2008 @ 08:36 PM
This mission has sure turned out to be awesome. We nailed a comet and got some awesome data, we are sending it to another for more data collection and we are using it to try and find Earth like planets. This one is a real winner!
After NASA has gotten things so goofed up, its nice to see a success.
But to the topic of the post. A missing comet that doesn't get closer to the sun than Earth. So options are it broke apart, another celestial body hit it and knocked it off course, NASA pulled a oops on the math or it was sucked into Planet X by its crazy high gravity (just kidding, couldn't help myself).
And for those who consider Planet X to be real, just take that as a playful joke - do not overreact please (and by Planet X I mean Niburu or the brown dwarf).
[alot of explaining for a joke...I stink]

posted on Jan, 2 2008 @ 11:06 AM
I'm no expert in this field, but after browsing some web info I wondered if it ran into a bit of trouble back on June 2 2007 when it was supposed to pass within 0.44 AU of Jupiter. That was the computation cited here anyway. Could a pass this close have affected its trajectory, or even have caused it to break up?

Forgive my lack of knowledge but I'm searching for answers here as it seems odd for a comet to simply break up or go off course without some kind of outside influence. (Granted, it could have collided with a chunk of rock. I guess even something with a mass of a few kilos would have quite an effect at high velocity.)



(Edited to fix a dumb error of grammar. Any others you can do yourselves

[edit on 2-1-2008 by JustMike]

posted on Jan, 2 2008 @ 01:34 PM
If the comet passed close enough it could have been torn apart (depends on composition which we don't know).
If I may toss out a conspiracy theory : They can't find it because it changed trajectory after breaking apart. It is due to pass with in 0.87 AU of Earth on December 23, 2008. What if it broke up (like Shoemaker-Levy 9 did) and is on a collision course?
I do not believe this to be true, but hey, I'm on Above Top Secret!

posted on Jan, 2 2008 @ 02:53 PM
I don't know about Niburu or Planet X or the brown dwarf, but this situation does seem strange to me on a couple levels. First, that NASA would target 85P/Boethin on such sketchy data to begin with. Second, already stated, the comet not being anywhere near where it was expected to be.

.44AU is something like 40 million miles, isn't it? Could Jupiter possibly exert sufficient gravitational force on the comet at that distance to break it apart into fragments too small to spot, or send it off course to the extent it could no longer be tracked? I would think NASA could calculate the force exerted and model the course change probability, like the page JustMike linked suggests.

Btw, JustMike, thanks for the informative link.

posted on Jan, 2 2008 @ 05:59 PM
The comet passed with in 66 million kilometers of Jupiter.
Here is some data of previous flights to Jupiter- Thanks Wikipedia :

Spacecraft and Closest
approach Distance
Pioneer 10 December 3, 1973 130,000 km
Pioneer 11 December 4, 1974 34,000 km
Voyager 1 March 5, 1979 349,000 km
Voyager 2 July 9, 1979 570,000 km
Ulysses February 1992 409,000 km
February 2004 240,000,000 km
Cassini December 30, 2000 10,000,000 km
New Horizons February 28, 2007 2,304,535 km

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

With those mission being so much closer, the comet should have flung around, but it still may have broken up.

posted on Jan, 2 2008 @ 09:34 PM
I come up with .44AU = 40.92 million miles = 68.2 million kilometers, roughly.

It is hard for me to compare gravitational stress on a spacecraft with the same on a comet. Kind of apples and oranges to me, compositionally.

I don't know what you mean by "flung around," either. I still think NASA would be able to calculate the change in trajectory caused by Jupiter's gravity.

It is possible they didn't have enough orbital history to effectively predict future positioning, but that is kind of boring from a conspiratorial perspective, isn't it?

posted on Jan, 2 2008 @ 09:49 PM
Granted NASA never had 85P on a truck mounted weigh devise. However, they are good enough to land some landrovers on Mars, pop a comet with a brass shell etc. Jupiter as big and lovely as she is is mostly gaseous with very little actual mass and hence gravity. 1001 things could have happened to 85P. I'd go into federal witness program to after seeing what happened to the initial phases of the mission.


posted on Jan, 2 2008 @ 10:50 PM
I must have missed it when Deep Impact was a planet hunting droid as well. Not bad if it is capable of looking for tiny hunks of rock around another star. Seems like an odd dual-use of a robot that smacks comets around for a living.

posted on Jan, 2 2008 @ 11:13 PM
Indeed apc, its multifaceted roles were kept a mystery to the most of us.
Wonder if it can solve the writers guild strike as well. Last I heard from the brass, it was to be sent as a sacrificial lamb to blast another wide ride.

posted on Jan, 3 2008 @ 05:54 AM
Icarus - With that chart, I was trying to show that other spacecraft were able to get MUCH closer to Jupiter without having them sucked into the atmosphere and destroyed. So at 66 million Km, it shouldnt have made a U-turn into the planet.
When I said 'flung around' I meant it kept its course and went on its way as normal, just kind of a fly-by without disruption. And yes, compositionally apples and oranges, but we don't know the mass of 85P...if it's sponge-like it may be close, if it is a giant solid brick flying through space, then yes, it is the Orange.

APC - yeah, funny how when you leave lonely rocket scientists alone for a few months while the craft is en route to the destination what they come up with. Scotty himself could not have done better.

JPM - Yep, no scale in space and their track record has some awesome achievements and some equally awesome failures (Mars Observer and the Mars Climate Orbiter - thanks Metric/Newton mixup). And thanks for the laugh with the Guild.

posted on Jan, 3 2008 @ 07:09 AM
Because this is a conspiracy site, some ideas naturally pop up. I personally wonder how many comet/rock busters are out there? Do a lot of our probes have this ability? Are we in danger of a strike more often than we know?


posted on Jan, 3 2008 @ 07:36 AM
I've read up on the planet hunting use and turns out it was never an intended mission. The very reason the probe is capable of looking for other planets is also the same reason I would be wary of designing it to perform such a task: like Hubble, it needs glasses.
Deep Impact's high-resolution camera has a flaw that keeps it slightly out of focus. This was a liability for the spacecraft's original mission to study the crater produced on comet Tempel 1 by an impactor probe. But it would actually be a benefit for observing planets passing in front of – or transiting – their parent stars, Deming says.

That is because a poorly focused star spreads its light out over more pixels in the camera's light detector, which makes the data less noisy and allows for subtler brightness variations to be measured, he says. "We convert that focus flaw into an asset," Deming told New Scientist.

posted on Jan, 3 2008 @ 09:10 AM
Ah, another flaw. Intentional, perhaps? To keep us from getting too clear a look at the impact on Tempel 1, or the comet itself? I am deeply curious about all the anomalies piling up in our efforts to explore near space and its supposedly inanimate occupants. Especially when it comes to comets. Call it a cosmic hunch.

harddrive21 - Thanks for the clarification. I meant you no disrespect, just wasn't sure what you were getting at. Interesting that you brought up the two failed Mars missions. Do you really believe NASA scientists failed to convert from standard to metric in their calculations? I don't. I'm not sure what happened, but I highly doubt it was a mix up in units of measurement. Also, that excuse was just for one of the failures. Was the other one ever explained?

posted on Jan, 3 2008 @ 03:43 PM
The more I think about this the more I laugh - Hubble was Near Sited and we didn't snap pics of the moon, asteroid belt, the Keiper Belt or anything else in the solar system. Deep Impact is Far Sighted and we have a "Eureka!" moment in NASA to use it for extra-solar planets.
Icarus - no disrespect taken and not offended. Anytime I can clarify a prior post just let me know.
I also wonder why we didn't test the imaging systems before the were sent up...they will say they were, but obviously not.
I brought up the two major Mars failures because they really pissed me off. Those were HUGE missions...and a math problem!?!? It's freakin' NASA. The alleged smartest men in the world made this oops....yeah they blamed the programmers and they blamed the technicians...just aggrevating.
Now returning to a calmer tone - I cannot believe this happened. I think they found something - I really don't know what, but it had to be something big. My only guess is since it was the Climate Orbiter, maybe it found an atmosphere that we could possible live on...more than what we thought. It was measuring ozone - maybe the planet isn't as dead as we thought and it has an ozone layer. It was also looking for planetary climate change - maybe it found Mars was heating up like Earth...I really have a huge question mark on this mission.
As for the Mars Observer - it had a awesome set of systems - a few are : the martian magnetic field, the gravitational field and the mineral composition on the planet. To Conspiracy Theorize - maybe they found the planet was still alive and had a magnetic field much like Earth...maybe it found the mineral composition showed more h2o than thought or the right combination of elements to show life on the planet.
Or it could have been The Galactic Ghoul that NASA feels can only survive on Mars-bound Earth sent robotic satellites.

posted on Jan, 3 2008 @ 05:25 PM
If I am not mistaken, and I frequently am, I remember a NASA press release stating that the mothership that popped a cap into the initial asteroid/comet / asteromet was to be sent to fly directly into 85P. I drink though, and used to use mindexpanding intoxicants, and I like potatos, maybe just a bit of undigested tater.

They say drugs kill brain cells. Maybe so, but only the weak ones.

[edit on 3-1-2008 by jpm1602]

posted on Jan, 3 2008 @ 05:39 PM
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Dude that was funny. I believe the NASA press release went something like this :
"we are nasa! bow before your scientific masters! ...the mission may be screwed...we are your gods! we give all knowledge! ...we stink at math - what does metric mean again?...we are nasa! end communication."

Mod Edit: All Caps – Please Review This Link.

[edit on 4-1-2008 by Jbird]

posted on Jan, 3 2008 @ 06:32 PM
Well ya know, those NASSER plaid pant, thong shoe, inappropriately sentenced t shirt wearing rocket scientists with 170 mensa IQ's are a rare odd breed. This is no joke, I had a 30 something literal rocket scientist neighbor two doors down that worked at Brookparks NASA Glenn research facility. He had a lot of neat toys. A corvette ZR1 he used almost exclusively. A '67 mint metallic blue Camaro. A bitchin' Harley.
But the guy was a nutjob supreme. I saw him screaming one night at a plow truck that did his driveway apron in after a snowstorm. Oh, and then their was the summer night he decided to cut his grass in the summer at 2 oclock in the morning. I have a lot of cop friends, as they took him downtown the next morning around 10 ish, they said, 'You know, now would be a good time to cut the grass.'

Yeesh, I'm having a spelling meltdown!

[edit on 3-1-2008 by jpm1602]

[edit on 3-1-2008 by jpm1602]

posted on Jan, 3 2008 @ 11:14 PM
Well that doesn't surprise me. People that are that smart generally have been "geeks" from day 1. So now they get the cars and bikes and try to be cool. They also are a eccentric bunch - slightly bipolar also (tis the price of genius). Mowing a lawn at 2am - he better have been REALLY drunk. It seems the smarter you are, the crazier and nuttier your behavior.
He should have been channeling his energy into a new HyperDrive or Mars Direct mission. If all the drunken rocket scientists got together, we would have one kick butt space program...but that may explain Hubble being Nearsighted, Deep Impact being farsighted and the Mars missions having about a 50% chance of success.

posted on Jan, 4 2008 @ 01:56 PM
Since we're throwing ideas out.....I personally think the comet may have been captured by another large celestial body. Or perhaps NASA is hiding something. Is it possible they don't want us to know that their current comet model is wrong??

[edit on 4-1-2008 by DevolutionEvolvd]

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