The Deep Impact to meet Harley 2

The Deep Impact to meet Harley 2

According to recent findings by an Australian astronomer, a spacecraft will soon be meeting a comet after taking a 5.1 billion-kilometre journey.

The Deep Impact spacecraft which is travelling at 12.5 kilometres a second, will make its nearest approach to the comet Hartley 2 early on Friday, crossing within 700 kilometres of the 1.2-kilometre wide icy world.

It is said to be the record time when a single spacecraft has had encounters with two different comets. The first meet was on July 4, 2005, Deep Impact flew by comet Tempel 1, dropping a probe on to its surface, which led to creation of unprecedented celestial fireworks which saw its impact on the Independence Day in the US.

Malcolm Hartley, who discovered the comet in 1986, will keep a close eye on the fly-by at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. The closest reach is believed to happen about 1am Sydney time on Friday.

Hartley 2 was stated to be the second amongst the 10 comets Mr Hartley - of the Australian Astronomical Observatory near Coonabarabran - discovered by screening the photographs of the night sky.

In a recent study a Sydney astronomer, Duane Hamacher, reports of more than 25 situation of comets coming from 40 Aboriginal communities, most of them casting a negative impression.

Mr. Hamacher, of Macquarie University explained: ''Perceptions of comets amongst Aboriginal societies were usually associated with fear, death, omens, malevolent spirits and evil magic, consistent with many cultures around the world.''

The study shall be published in the Journal for Astronomical History and Heritage.