Deep Impact Small Telescope Science Program
Deep Impact Small Telescope Science Program
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Welcome to the Deep Impact Mission's
Small Telescope Science Program

The Small Telescope Science Program (STSP) was a collaborative effort among advanced observers, private observatories, and professional astronomers spread around the world to gather ground-based optical data on comet 9P/Tempel 1, the target of the Deep Impact Mission. The main objective of the program was to provide continuous monitoring of the comet to complement data acquired at large telescopes. The STSP was interested in receiving the following types of observations and measurements of comet 9P/Tempel 1:

  • broadband RI photometry from November 2004 through December 2005 or January 2006
  • broadband VRI and unfiltered imaging for jet activity from March through September 2005
  • broadband VRI and unfiltered imaging for outbursts beginning as early as November 2004 and continuing through 2005
  • narrowband photometry and spectroscopy around the time of impact will also be accepted

These data are helping scientists understand and model the activity and dust environment of the comet before, during, and after the mission's excavation of a crater in the nucleus on July 4, 2005 at about 05:44 UTC. Please read the Observing objectives and procedures for more details.

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Status and History of the STSP

We relaunched the STSP during October 2004, when conditions become favorable for observing Tempel 1. STSP observers collected data as early as October 10, 2004, and continued until January 1, 2006, when observing conditions deteriorated. A list of over 350 images, reduced and submitted by STSP observers, is available here. During the 2004-2006 campaign, we asked STSP observers to reduce their data before submitting it. We expect to finish photometric measurements of reduced R-band images in 2006.

The STSP was originally started in February 2000, about 2 months after Tempel 1 passed perihelion. The program continued through March 2001, when Tempel 1 became too faint (> 20.0 magnitude in red) for small telescopes. During that observing campaign, STSP participants acquired over 1100 raw CCD images of comet Tempel 1, including over 800 photometric broadband VRI images. We reduced the data and performed preliminary photometry on most of the broadband R images during 2001 and found the results to be promising. Therefore, we calibrated a subset of the broadband R images to the mission's ground-based photometric standards (the broadband system for the University of Hawaii's 2.2-meter telescope) and found these final results to fit nicely with the professional, photometric measurements. We expect to finish calibrating the 2000-2001 data and final photometric measurements in 2006.

During the hiatus of the STSP from mid-2001 through mid-2004, we directed STSP participants to other observing programs. For example, we asked STSP observers to image comet 19P/Borrelly in preparation for the NASA Deep Space 1's flyby in September 2001. In December 2001 and January 2002, we directed STSP observers to the imaging campaign for comet Linear (C/2000 WM1) as it approached perihelion. Because STSP observers were able to image the NASA Contour spacecraft after it launched in July 2002, we directed STSP observers to search for the spacecraft after it lost contact with Earth in August 2002. In December 2003, we steered STSP participants to the observing program for Comet 81P/Wild in support of the Stardust mission. In June 2004, we suggested that STSP observer image comets C/2002 T7 (LINEAR) and C/2001 Q4 (NEAT) to support a study of the interaction of the solar wind with cometary tails by Gerant Jones and Jack Brandt.

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STSP Coordinator: Stef McLaughlin
Webmaster: Elizabeth Warner
Last Updated: Monday June 18, 2012

Deep Impact Small Telescope Science Program