NASA launches comet-hunting "Deep Impact" craft on Weds. - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

NASA launches comet-hunting "Deep Impact" craft on Weds.

(Kennedy Space Center-AP) Jan. 12, 2005 - A spacecraft with a Hollywood name has blasted off for space. "Deep Impact," NASA's latest mission, was launched Wednesday from the Kennedy Space Center.

It's aimed at smashing a hole in a far-off comet to provide scientists a glimpse into the frozen ingredients of the solar system. NASA scientists say the comet impact could leave a hole as large as a football stadium, up to 14 stories deep.

The team hopes the mission will reveal the nucleus of the comet itself. Scientists hope to answer basic questions about the formation of the solar system.

They say that beneath the surface of a comet, material from the solar system's formation remains relatively unchanged.

Scientiest say Wednesday's launch was like threading a needle. The spacecraft lifted off with a launch window of only one second.

It'll take six months to fly 268 million miles and impact with Comet Tempel One.

Scientists hope to hit the target on the Fourth of July.

updated 2:34pm by Chris Rees

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