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Kuiper Airborne Observatory Comet Crash Observing Plans


Kuiper Airborne Observatory

The Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO) will look for water that has been brought up into Jupiter's tropospheric clouds by the comet impact, and for water in the comet if it breaks up above the planet's tropopause. The KAO also will look for other compounds that would be unobservable from the ground due to the Earth's atmospheric absorption. Kuiper will be deployed to Melbourne, Australia, to observe the impact and aftermath of seven fragments of the comet. The modified C-141 aircraft will use three spectrometers attached to a 36-inch telescope to make infrared observations between July 17 and 25. Because the observatory flies at 41,000 feet, where most of the Earth's atmospheric water vapor is frozen out, it is able to observe distant water with minimal contamination by terrestrial water vapor.

Public Affairs contact:
Diane Farrar
NASA Ames Research Center
Mountain View, Calif.
(415) 604-3934.

Kuiper Airborne Observatory Comet Crash Observing Plans


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