The Heart of a Comet

NASA’s EPOXI mission, formerly the Deep Impact mission that launched an impactor into comet Temple 1 on July 4, 2005, has just sent back some amazing images of the nucleus of comet Hartley 2 as it flew by at a distance of about 700 km or about 420 miles.

Flyby views of Comet Hartley 2 - Image courtesy of NASA

You can easily see the jets of vapor being back-lit by the Sun at the ends of the nucleus, which is about 2 km, or about 1.2 miles long.  This is a great image that shows just where the large tail and coma, which surrounds the nucleus comes from.  Check out NASA’s site for EPOXI for more pictures and information.

This isn’t the first time we’ve gotten an image of a comet’s nucleus.  The picture below shows a nice comparison of the five comets we’ve peeked at.

5 Comets we've visited.  Image courtesy of NASA

Till next time,

RC Davison

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