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Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Close Up with Comet Temple 1

Comet Temple 1 imaged at closest approach by the Stardust spacecraft.

The full image sequence, including the close approach images, from the Stardust encounter with comet Temple 1 is now up at the NASA web site.

There is a wealth of data in these images (as well as them being quite pretty in their won right. We now have views of terrain not seen by the Deep-Impact mission, views of the impact crater made by the Deep-Impact impactor, and possibly more importantly, changes to the comet structure since the comet was visited by Deep-Impact. The smooth terrain observed by Deep-Impact has visibly eroded in the images taken by Stardust.

As well, people have been making animations (I was going to but too many people had beaten me). Emily Lakdawalla of The Planetary Society blog has created a very nice animation of close approach, and she has also published a nice 3D image of the comet. Ian O’Neill, from Discovery News, also posted a nice animation of the fly-by on YouTube:

As always, the Bad Astronomer has a nice summing up. And the Australian ABC's StarStuff has an excellent Podcast on the encounter (amongst other things).

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