Comet Hartley 2 much smaller than previously anticipated: JPL (2)

21:17, November 05, 2010      

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The mother ship was then recycled and aimed to swoop within 434 miles (about 694 kilometers) of Hartley 2 five years later: Nov. 4, 2010. And at 6:59 a.m., it passed its target and transmitted photos of the fly-by to California, just as planned.

"Scientists and engineers have successfully squeezed world-class science from a repurposed spacecraft at a fraction of the cost to taxpayers of a new science project," said mission project manager Tim Larson.

"We certainly have our hands full" after today's fly-by," said A 'Hearn. "The images are full of cometary data, and that's what we hoped for."

Thursday's encounter marks only the fifth time a comet has been photographed up close, and the first time a comet spacecraft used the same instruments and same spatial resolution to shoot a second comet, according to the JPL.

As for the Deep Impact spacecraft, it does not have enough fuel to rocket past a third comet. NASA is evaluating other purposes for its super-sensitive cameras, which are still functioning and fueled nine years after launch.

Source: Xinhua
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