Meade Instrument Corporation's
Scott Roberts was one of many who eschewed the Internet for an eyepiece. "Within minutes of the impact … we could observe a distinctly starlike core inside what was an evenly diffuse (and faint) comet," he wrote in an e-mail to Astronomy
After the crash, the Deep Impact mothership monitored the plume as it approached to within 310 miles (500 km) of the nucleus. The probe survived its close encounter intact and will continue to monitor the comet for the next several days.
Mission planners hope to send Deep Impact past one additional comet — 85P/Boethin. "NASA has agreed to preserve the option of the extended mission, pending further review," A'Hearn tells Astronomy
The team will receive a small amount of funding to make a trajectory correction maneuver later this month. This would send Deep Impact toward Earth for a gravity assist that will boost it onto its new target. A'Hearn describes this as "just a stop-gap step with minimal funding" — one that keeps open the possibility of an extended mission.