Comet Flyby Yields Close-ups of the Lumpy, Icy Hartley 2

By Eliza Strickland | November 4, 2010 12:31 pm

Hartley2This morning, NASA’s EPOXI mission whizzed by the comet Hartley 2, coming as near as 450 miles to the comet at 8 a.m. and snapping pictures all the while. The icy comet is less than a mile in diameter and has an irregular shape that one NASA researcher recently described as “a cross between a bowling pin and a pickle.”

The images are already streaming in: Head to Bad Astronomy for more pictures and a discussion of what these snapshots tell us about Hartley 2.

This is the second cometary encounter for this spacecraft–under a previous mission called Deep Impact the spacecraft sent an impactor hurtling into the comet Tempel 1, allowing the craft to photograph the excavated debris and the impact crater.

Related Content:
80beats: Holy Hartley 2! What to Know About NASA’s Comet Flyby
80beats: Video: Comet Caught Crashing into the Sun
80beats: Spacecraft-Collected Comet Dust Reveals Surprises From the Solar System’s Boondocks
Bad Astronomy: Ten Things You Don’t Know About Comets
DISCOVER: NASA Takes a Wild Comet Ride


  • Bigby

    Actually it looks more like a gigantic Mr Peanut.

  • Tim

    I think it looks like a chicken leg. That could be because I am hungry.

  • Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Tim : Nah, looks like a chicken wing to me also – or in a couple of images like a bone for a dog.

    Apparently the spacecaft itself is still called Deep Impact but the mission is called EPOXI which seems unnecessarily confusing and a bit pointless to me. I’d rather they called it the extended DeepImpact mission or something. Not that it really matters.

    Anyone know if they’re planning on doing anything more with the old DeepImpactcraft after this?


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