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NASA Space Science

NASA's Stunning Close-Up Photos of Comet Hartley 2 62

Several readers have sent word that NASA's EPOXI spacecraft performed a close approach to comet Hartley 2 yesterday, taking pictures within roughly 700km of the nucleus. Bad Astronomer Phil Plait has a collection of some fantastic photographs, and you can check out a ton of other images on the mission website. The Planetary Society blog put together a neat animation of the flyby. NASA's mission fact sheet (PDF) explains EPOXI's background — it's the supplemental mission of the Deep Impact craft that smashed a small probe into a different comet back in 2005 — and why Hartley 2 was chosen for this flyby (they couldn't find their original target).
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NASA's Stunning Close-Up Photos of Comet Hartley 2

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  • Incredible (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @05:39PM (#34142150)

    Amazing pics - those are the kind of photos that make you look at the universe in a whole new way.

  • by Nyeerrmm ( 940927 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @05:42PM (#34142182)

    The EPOXI team did a great job, but amazingly most of them are straight back to work after this. The Stardust NExT mission, another repurposing of a used deep space spacecraft is going to be revisiting Temple 1 (which deep impact originally hit) in another 4 months.

    Right after the flyby much of the team was in meetings to make sure Stardust gets where it needs to go. Not sure whether it'll be easier or harder though. The comet is larger and less likely to stray too far off course, but the spacecraft itself is a finicky thing that's nearly out of fuel... Should be exciting to see even more pictures like this in a few months.

  • Re:Slow website (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @06:41PM (#34142762)
    It loads fine, if slowly, for me. I am sure the is some excellent reason to want to load very large image files where the magnified target consists of seven pixels, but I can't imagine what it is. The closer-up images are spectacular however.
  • So close (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Joe Snipe ( 224958 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @07:01PM (#34142936) Homepage Journal

    I think one of our best bets on searching our galaxy would be to shoot a probe that burrows into one of these far reaching comets. It would give us a better observable range, and chances are that other intelligent life would be interested in observing the comet as well, should there be any.

Beware of Programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein