7-4-05 - PASADENA, Calif. (AP) A dazzling holiday fireworks display 83 million miles from Earth. A NASA space probe has hit its comet target in a mission scientists hope will reveal clues to how the solar system formed.
Scientists managing the mission from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California erupted in applause and hugged each other when the impact was confirmed. It's the first time a spacecraft has touched the surface of a comet.
The space agency hopes the 333 million dollar experiment will answer basic questions about the origins of the solar system.
NASA says the cosmic smash-up won't significantly alter the comet's orbit or pose any danger to Earth.
Almost like a science fiction movie. That's how a doctor in Hawaii describes the initial photos showing the successful collision between the Deep Impact probe and the comet Tempel One.
Steve Lin was part of a crowd that packed Waikiki Beach to watch the NASA images on a giant screen. They showed a bright flash along the lower part of the picture. The curious also crowded observatories holding Deep Impact gatherings to watch the collision.
Scientist Don Yeomans says the probe worked well, noting "we hit it just exactly where we wanted to."