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NASA Space Science

Stardust Mission Makes First-Ever Return To Comet 47

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the nice-to-see-you-again dept.
RedEaredSlider writes "NASA's Stardust probe made its closest approach to comet Tempel-1 on Monday night, marking the first time a comet has ever been revisited by a spacecraft. The mission, formally called Stardust-NeXT, for New EXploration of Tempel-1, was launched on its way in 2006. On Monday night it came within 181 kilometers (112 miles) of the comet, taking pictures and measuring the amount and composition of dust in the comet's coma, the plume of gas that surrounds it. It approached the comet at about 10.6 kilometers (6.7 miles) per second, making it one of the fastest probes that has yet flown. Stardust made its closest approach at 11:39 p.m. Eastern and after that, swung around its high-gain antenna towards Earth to transmit its data. The comet and spacecraft are about 336 million kilometers (209 million miles) away, so signals take a full 18 minutes to get to Earth."
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Stardust Mission Makes First-Ever Return To Comet

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  • Wrong Solar System? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Geodesy99 (1002847) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @07:30PM (#35216032)
    Scanning through some of the releases on http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/stardust/ [nasa.gov] "NASA's Stardust-NExT mission took this image of comet Tempel 1 at 8:40 p.m. PST (11:40 p.m. EST) on Feb 14, 2011, from a distance of approximately 946.05 trillion kilometers (587.85 trillion miles). The comet was first visited by NASA's Deep Impact mission in 2005." 587.85 trillion miles? ( See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trillion [wikipedia.org] for both defintions ) This would put it 6,314,828 A.U., or about 23 times the 4.365 Light years ( 276,041 A.U.) distance to Alpha Centauri. ... or maybe it is just damn fine imaging! :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @08:49PM (#35216654)

    I used to work at a small robotics company in NYC, that worked on NASA projects. We were building a drilling device that would be part of a lander that was supposed to go to Tempel 1. But NASA/JPL scrapped it in favor of Deep Impact (smashing into the comet instead of landing on it).

    So instead of having a spacecraft land on the comet, drill 1 meter into it, take a sample and return the sample to Earth (yes it was ambitious), they opted for smashing into it with Deep Impact and fly bys/dust collection with Stardust.

    I'm not really bitter, really. It was fun/cool working there, but I was disappointed that NASA switched things up on us.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

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