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Monday, 8 November 2010

Flight of the Comet

The full version of this story with accompanying video and images is at:

A new video clip (available at was compiled from images taken by NASA's EPOXI
mission spacecraft during its flyby of comet Hartley 2 on Nov. 4, 2010. During the encounter, the spacecraft and comet whisked
past each other at a speed of 12.3 kilometers per second (27,560
miles per hour). The spacecraft came within about 700 kilometers (435 miles) of the comet's nucleus at the time of closest

"While future generations should have the opportunity to truly
explore comets, this flyby gives us an excellent preview of what
they will get to enjoy," said EPOXI principal investigator
Michael A'Hearn of the University of Maryland, College Park. "Hartley 2 exceeded all our expectations in not only scientific
value but in its stark majestic beauty."

The video clip of the flyby is comprised of 40 frames taken from
the spacecraft's Medium-Resolution Instrument during the
encounter. The first image was taken at about 37 minutes before
the time of closest approach at a distance of about 27,350
kilometers (17,000 miles). The last image was taken 30 minutes
after closest approach at a distance of 22,200 kilometers
(13,800 miles). The spacecraft was able to image nearly 50
percent of the comet's illuminated surface in detail.

The EPOXI mission's flyby of comet Hartley 2 was only the fifth
time in history that a comet nucleus has been imaged, and the
first time in history that two comets have been imaged with the
same instruments and same spatial resolution.

EPOXI is an extended mission that utilizes the already "in
flight" Deep Impact spacecraft to explore distinct celestial
targets of opportunity. The name EPOXI itself is a combination
of the names for the two extended mission components: the
extrasolar planet observations, called Extrasolar Planet
Observations and Characterization (EPOCh), and the flyby of
comet Hartley 2, called the Deep Impact Extended Investigation
(DIXI). The spacecraft will continue to be referred to as "Deep

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the
EPOXI mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate,
Washington. The University of Maryland, College Park, is home to
the mission's principal investigator, Michael A'Hearn. Drake
Deming of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., is
the science lead for the mission's extrasolar planet
observations. The spacecraft was built for NASA by Ball
Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo.

For more information about EPOXI visit .

DC Agle 818-393-9011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)

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