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EPOXI

Two intriguing investigations -- One flight-proven spacecraft

Outreach

EPOXI Newsletter - May 2008

WELCOME BACK!

Did you know that the Deep Impact Flyby Spacecraft has a new assignment? The EPOXI mission combines two exciting science investigations in an entirely new mission that re-uses the Deep Impact spacecraft. The Extrasolar Planet Observation and Characterization (EPOCh) investigation will observe stars that have known transiting giant planets. The Deep Impact Extended Investigation (DIXI) of comets observes comet 103P/Hartley 2 during a close flyby in October 2010.

The education and public outreach team decided to get back in touch with our Deep Impact friends and begin sending out newsletters again to keep you informed of these two exciting investigations! During the two years since our last newsletter for Deep Impact, the science team has stayed busy continuing to do more analysis on the data collected in July 2005. The science team also proposed and was awarded an extended mission teaming up with a group from Goddard Space Flight Center.

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MISSION STATUS

Dr. Deming, Principal Investigator (PI) for the EPOCh portion of the mission, sends us the latest mission status report in which he tells us about the current observing target GJ436. "This is an exciting time for EPOCh, as we search for an exo-Earth orbiting a stellar neighbor of our Sun!" reports Dr Deming. He also talks about the plans to observe a very special planet in late May and early June.

Read his status report as well as past reports from other team members at epoxi.umd.edu/1mission/status.shtml

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EPOCh TARGETS

The EPOCh component of the EPOXI mission will carefully study a small number of stars in order to learn more about planets that we know are orbiting those stars by watching the planets as they transit (cross in front of) the star. EPOCh will also search for clues to other planets that might be orbiting the same stars.

Read more about the EPOCh science targets to find out which stars are being observed.epoxi.umd.edu/2science/targets.shtml

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PLANET QUEST

Are we alone?
For centuries, human beings have pondered this question. Medieval scholars speculated that other worlds must exist and that some would harbor other forms of life. In our time, advances in science and technology have brought us to the threshold of finding an answer to this timeless question.
The recent discovery of numerous planets around stars other than the sun confirms that our solar system is not unique. Indeed, these "exoplanets" appear to be common in our galactic neighborhood.

The EPOCh investigation is part of a larger family of missions studying extrasolar planets. Learn more at the Jet Propulsion Lab Planet Quest Web site. planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/

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OBSERVING CHALLENGE

The transits that will be studied for EPOCh are extremely difficult to observe because the change in brightness is very small and requires high precision photometry that can be accomplished with instruments on the Deep Impact spacecraft. Observers on Earth can still take a look at the stars in the night time sky. The selected stars are also pretty dim because we don't want them to saturate or over expose the spacecraft instruments but they are bright enough to be visible in amateur telescopes if the sky conditions are good and the skies are dark.

Like people, stars have multiple identifiers. EPOCh's first target was a star labeled as HAT-P-4 by the scientists observing it. They made their own list of target stars so that was their shorthand name. But HAT-P-4 has numerous other names which are more useful in identifying it in other databases and planetarium programs.
HAT-P-4 = SAO 64638 = TYC 2569-1599-1 is a magnitude 11, G-class star located in the constellation Boötes.
Chart: epoxi.umd.edu/2science/challenge.shtml

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Please forward this e-mail to others interested in NASA missions. New subscribers may join the EPOXI Mission e-news mailing list on our website at: epoxi.umd.edu/6outreach/newsletters/newsletter.shtml

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EPOXI E-News features information about the mission, its outreach web site, and products, services, and materials available from the EPOXI Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) team. The EPOXI mission combines two exciting science investigations in an entirely new mission that re-uses the Deep Impact spacecraft. The Extrasolar Planet Observation and Characterization (EPOCh) investigation will observe stars that have known transiting giant planets. The Deep Impact Extended Investigation (DIXI) of comets observes comet 103P/Hartley 2 during a close flyby in October 2010. The EPOXI mission is a partnership among the University of Maryland (UMD), the California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Ball Aerospace and Technology Corp (BATC), and Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). EPOXI is a NASA Discovery mission of opportunity. See our website at epoxi.umd.edu.

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