Deep Impact is the NASA project to smack a probe into the surface of a comet in order to get some insights into what it's made of. The impact event will happen on Monday, July 4. The comet -- which will by no means be destroyed -- is Comet Tempel 1. The impact will be watched by a variety of space probes, and will be visible from some parts of the Earth.
Why do this? Two main reasons. The first is that comets have, by and large, been around since the formation of the solar system, and taking a look at the guts of one can give some added clues about how the planets came to be. The second will be familiar to regular readers of WorldChanging: it will help us better understand how to keep comets from hitting the Earth. They don't hit very often, but when they do...
A final digression: if scientists are concerned about Hollywood mangling science in the service of entertainment, they probably shouldn't be using Hollywood names for their projects to get more attention. Just saying.
The movie did come out seven years ago, though. Even though I can clearly remember really wanting to go see it at the time, by the time I heard about the NASA project, I could only recall Deep Impact was some stupid movie about a comet.
If anything, NASA's naming has "un-mangled" the movie; not only is the project the first result for "deep impact" on Google, but when reading the post title, I immediately thought of a spacecraft plowing into a comet, as opposed to a comet plowing into the Earth.
Kitt Peak is holding a viewing party - for those of us who can't make it they will be broadcasting imagery of the event.
I must say I was tempted not to post this - the fewer people that know about it the better my chances are that we don't overwhelm their server.