This 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.
80beats: Holy Hartley 2! What to Know About NASA’s Comet Flyby
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Bad Astronomy: Ten Things You Don’t Know About Comets
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