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The Deep Impact spacecraft
Image of Deep Impact spacecraft parts Image of Deep Impact spacecraft

Photo courtesy Ball Aerospace &
Technologies Corp.

The Deep Impact spacecraft was as large as a mid-size sport utility vehicle. The spacecraft was made up of two parts: a flyby spacecraft and an 820-pound impactor.

Both the spacecraft and the impactor had cameras to take pictures of the comet and the impact.

The spacecraft released the impactor about a day before the scheduled meeting with comet Tempel 1. The impactor, traveling at 23,000 miles an hour, collided into the comet early July 4, 2005. The collision created a large crater on Tempel 1 and unleashed material that had been trapped inside the comet for billions of years.