ABSTRACT

One of the goals of the Hubble Space Telescope program to observe periodic comet 9P/Tempel 1 in conjunction with NASA’s Deep Impact mission was to study the generation and evolution of the gaseous coma resulting from the impact. For this purpose, the Solar Blind Channel of the Advanced Camera for Surveys was used with the F140LP filter which is sensitive primarily to the ultraviolet emission (1400°A) from the CO Fourth Positive system. Following the impact we detected an increase in brightness, which if all due to CO corresponds to 1:51031 molecules or a mass of 6:6105 kg, an amount that would normally be produced by 7–10 hours of quiescent outgassing from the comet. This number is 10% of the number of water molecules excavated, and suggests that the volatile content of the material excavated by the impact did not differ significantly from the surface or near sub-surface material responsible for the quiescent outgassing of the comet.