Tag Archives: tempel 1

Two-timing Spacecraft Has Date with Another Comet

NASA’s Stardust spacecraft, equipped with the University of Chicago’s Dust Flux Monitor Instrument (DFMI), is hurtling at more than 24,000 miles an hour toward a Valentine’s Day encounter with comet Tempel 1.

Stardust will approach to within 124 miles of Tempel 1 at 10:56 p.m. CST Monday, Feb. 14. The spacecraft flew within 150 miles of comet Wild 2 in 2004, when it collected thousands of tiny dust particles streaming from the comet’s nucleus for laboratory analysis. (more…)

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NASA Comet Hunter Spots Its Valentine

NASA’s Stardust spacecraft has downlinked its first images of comet Tempel 1, the target of a flyby planned for Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. The images were taken on Jan. 18 and 19 from a distance of 26.3 million kilometers (16.3 million miles), and 25.4 million kilometers (15.8 million miles) respectively. On Feb. 14, Stardust will fly within about 200 kilometers (124 miles) of the comet’s nucleus.

“This is the first of many images to come of comet Tempel 1,” said Joe Veverka, principal investigator of NASA’s Stardust-NExT mission from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. “Encountering something as small and fast as a comet in the vastness of space is always a challenge, but we are very pleased with how things are setting up for our Valentine’s Day flyby.” (more…)

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Primordial Dry Ice Fuels Comet Jets

*Initial science results on comet released from University of Maryland, much more to come UMD scientists say.* 

 

Jets Galore. This enhanced image, one of the closest taken of comet Hartley 2. Image credit: University of Maryland

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – One of the biggest comet findings coming out of the amazing images and data taken by the University of Maryland-ledEPOXI mission as it zipped past comet Hartley 2 last week is that dry ice is the ‘jet’ fuel for this comet and perhaps many others. 

Images from the flyby show spectacular jets of gas and particles bursting from many distinct spots on the surface of the comet. This is the first time images of a comet have been sharp enough to allow scientists to link jets of dust and gas with specific surface features. Analysis of the spectral signatures of the materials coming from the jets shows primarily CO2 gas (carbon dioxide) and particles of dust and ice. 

“Previously it was thought that water vapor from water ice was the propulsive force behind jets of material coming off of the body, or nucleus, of the comet,” said University of Maryland Astronomy Professor Jessica Sunshine, who is deputy principal investigator for the EPOXI mission. “We now have unambiguous evidence that solar heating of subsurface frozen carbon dioxide (dry ice), directly to a gas, a process known as sublimation, is powering the many jets of material coming from the comet. This is a finding that only could have been made by traveling to a comet, because ground based telescopes can’t detect CO2 and current space telescopes aren’t tuned to look for this gas,” Sunshine said.  (more…)

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UMD-Led Team Begins Imaging Comet Hartley 2 with Deep Impact Spacecraft

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Some five years after its July 4th 2005 ‘comet shot’ was seen around the world, the Deep Impact spacecraft has begun regular imaging of a second comet target, Hartley 2. The spacecraft will continue imaging Hartley 2 during and after its closest approach on November 4, providing an extended look at the comet. However, there won’t be any fireworks this time as Deep Impact’s probe craft was destroyed in its deliberate 2005 collision with comet Tempel 1.

(more…)

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