NASA Spacecraft in Comet Rendezvous
NASA's EPOXI spacecraft flew past it target, comet Hartley 2, Thursday morning and has begun returning images of the cosmic snowball.
20036 (I-Newswire) November 5, 2010 - PASADENA, Calif., (UPI) -- NASA's EPOXI spacecraft flew past it target, comet Hartley 2, Thursday morning and has begun returning images of the cosmic snowball, the space agency said.
Scientists and mission controllers were busy viewing never-before-seen images of Hartley 2's comet nucleus on their computer terminal screens, a NASA release said.
"The mission team and scientists have worked hard for this day," said Tim Larson, EPOXI project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "It's good to see Hartley 2 up close."
Eight minutes after closest approach, estimated at 435 miles, the spacecraft's high-gain antenna was pointed at Earth. About 20 minutes later, the first images of the encounter made the 23-million-mile trip from the spacecraft to NASA's Deep Space Network antennas in Goldstone, Calif.
"We are all holding our breath to see what discoveries await us in the observations near closest approach," said EPOXI principal investigator Michael A'Hearn of the University of Maryland, College Park.
EPOXI's flyby marks the fifth time a spacecraft has visited a comet nucleus, NASA said.
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Published in:Science and Research
Published On:November 5, 2010
Print Release:Print Release
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