Mystery Photo

What in the world is it?

Mystery Photo

Don’t peek at the answer until you’ve given this a good try! Then, scroll down a bit and the truth will be revealed to you.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD

A close-up of a rock being torched? a stone penetrating Earth’s atmosphere and burning up. No. But these guesses are not far from the mark. In fact, talking about hitting the bulls eye. This false-color image shows comet Tempel 1 about 50 minutes after a NASA probe smashed into its surface on July 4, 2005. The impact site is located on the far side of the comet in this view. The image was taken by the mission’s flyby spacecraft as it turned back to face the comet for one last photo opportunity.

The colors represent brightness, with white indicating the brightest materials and black showing the faintest materials. This brightness is a measure of reflected sunlight. Because the sunlit portion of the comet is brighter, it appears white. The comet’s nucleus is silhouetted against the light reflected from surrounding dust.

The large plume of dust that was kicked up upon impact can be seen as the colorful, drop-shaped object. This plume was very bright, indicating that the comet’s surface material must be very fine, like talcum powder.

The blue speck in the upper left corner is a star.

The project, known as Deep Impact, will help scientists find clues to the formation of the solar system and more about the structure and composition of comets