NASA's close encounter with a new comet (images)
Originally named Deep Impact, NASA's Epoxi spacecraft made a close encounter with comet Hartley 2 - but this time it didn't send a bomb to explode on its surface. The spacecraft made its closest approach to the comet, about 435 miles, today after having traveled 23 million miles to find it.
Hartley 2 is about 1.2 miles long and is .25 miles wide at its most narrow portion. Jets of gases are streaming from the nucleus.
More of comet Hartley 2.
One of Epoxi's first image of Hartley 2 taken about 18 hours before its closest encounter.
Comet Hartley 2 as seen from Earth by amateur astronomer Byron Bergert on October 6, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida using a 106 mm Takahashi astrograph.
Credit: Byron Bergert
An artist shows the spacecraft now known as Epoxi.
In previous life as Deep Impact, the spacecraft, now known at Epoxi, gained fame in July 2005 by sending an explosive probe into the surface of comet Tempel 1 as shown in this artist's depiction.
This image shows some of the features on comet Tempel 1. A and B show smooth areas. The explosion occured where the lower arrow indicates.
Comet Tempel 1 as seen 67 seconds after the "impactor spacecraft" exploded on its surface.
One of the most detailed images of comet Tempel 1 taken about 90 seconds before impact.