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"Are you able to alter course, Pilot?"
"I think so, but I must be quick – my functions are failing rapidly."
"Can you navigate to the machine's origin?"
"I believe so – some Recorders yet function."
"Then do so – change course, maximum speed."
"That will take five of their months - your intention, Controller?"
"Can you calculate the effect of homeworld's collision with that planet?"
"Then do it, while you can. Do it for the future generations who have just vanished. Let us see how they like it..."
The collision of a probe from NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft with comet Tempel 1 blew a plume of debris thousands of miles into space and provided a spectacular first glimpse of the insides of a comet — ancient bodies that may hold the key to the origins of the solar system — scientists said Monday 4th July 2005.
The collision — a carefully orchestrated dance at more than 20,000 mph intended to expose the comet's interior — was much larger than anyone had expected, said researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge.
Telescopes on Earth showed that the light from the comet increased fivefold in the aftermath of the collision at 10:52 p.m. PDT Sunday before slowly fading over several hours.
© Michael J. Eardley July 2005
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