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EPOXI

Two intriguing investigations -- One flight-proven spacecraft

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EPOXI Newsletter - June 2008

A'HEARN WINS DPS KUIPER PRIZE

Dr. Mike A'Hearn, EPOXI's Principal Investigator and leader of the DIXI science team, is the honored recipient of the 2008 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize in Planetary Sciences. The Kuiper Prize is an award annually presented by the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society to recognize scientists whose research has greatly contributed to our knowledge of planetary systems. The award will be presented at the Annual DPS meeting in October at which A'Hearn will give a lecture. A'Hearn is currently a Distinguished Professor at the University of Maryland and was the Principal Investigator for the Deep Impact Mission. Stay tuned for the official DPS release and more details on A'Hearn's upcoming lecture later this year.

For more information on the Kuiper Prize visit dps.aas.org/prizes/kuiper.
For more information of Mike A'Hearn visit deepimpact.umd.edu/mission/bios/bio-mahearn.html.

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MISSION STATUS

Dr. Drake Deming, Principal Investigator (PI) for the EPOCh investigation, reports that EPOCh will have a few more weeks of "contingency" observing during the summer to make up for time lost due to equipment problems in the spring.

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

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THREE YEARS!

For many of us who worked on Deep Impact and continue to work on EPOXI, it seems just like yesterday that we encountered Tempel 1 and excavated a crater with the impactor spacecraft. But it has been three years since the cosmic fireworks received worldwide attention. Since July 4-5, 2005, the scientists have published numerous papers. To see a sampling of the results, visit

deepimpact.umd.edu/results/
deepimpact.umd.edu/flash/di_science.html (requires Flash)
deepimpact.umd.edu/flash/non-flash.html (non-Flash version)

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STUNNING NEW EARTH/MOON OBSERVATIONS

More than 30 years ago, en route to the Moon in December 1972, the astronauts of Apollo 17 took an extraordinary photograph. They captured the entire Earth on one frame of film, showing it to be a lonely blue marble in empty black space, streaked by clouds and the occasional continent or smaller bit of land. We have become so used to the picture that we sometimes forget its startling message: that a world that holds life is something small and special in the vast range of space.

On May 29 of 2008, the EPOXI mission took a set of pictures from an even more distant perspective, showing our Earth and its companion, the Moon, passing directly between EPOXI's spacecraft and Earth. By coincidence, the Earth showed Africa as the Moon passed by, the same continent appearing in the famous Blue Marble photo from Apollo 17. These images of the Earth and Moon together are a part of EPOXI's scientific mission to explore the planets of other stars -- in this case, as part of an effort to learn more about what an Earth-like planet looks like from such a distance that no details can be discerned, which includes understanding the appearance of an Earth-like planet orbited by one or more Moon-like moons. By learning what the Earth looks like from a great distance, we can learn more about how to engineer instruments to investigate Earth-like planets from even greater distance.
epoxi.umd.edu/3gallery/Earth-Moon.shtml

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OBSERVING CHALLENGE

EPOCh's first target and May's observing challenge HAT-P-4, a magnitude 11, G-class star, is still visible in the evening sky in the constellation Boötes. Another of EPOCh's targets observed by the project during May was GJ 436. At about 33 light-years, it is one of the closer targets to be observed by the EPOXI mission.

GJ436 = LHS 310 = HIP 57087 is a magnitude 10.7, M2.5-class star located in the constellation Leo. The reddish-colored star will be a challenge to observe only because it is in a part of the sky that will soon be obscured by the sun and therefore not viewable again until the early morning hours in late September.
Chart: epoxi.umd.edu/2science/challenge.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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