EPOXI comet mission may face multiple jets Nov. 4 (w/ Video)

Nov 02, 2010 By DC Agle
The Deep Impact spacecraft's High- and Medium-Resolution Imagers (HRI and MRI) have captured multiple jets emanating from comet Hartley 2 turning on and off while the spacecraft is 8 million kilometers (5 million miles) away from the comet.

Two movies derived from images taken by the two cameras aboard NASA's EPOXI mission spacecraft show comet Hartley 2 is, as expected, quite active, and it provides information on the nucleus's rotation. The spacecraft has been imaging Hartley 2 almost daily since Sept. 5, in preparation for its scheduled Nov. 4 flyby of the comet.

"The brings us new surprises every day," said Michael A'Hearn, EPOXI principal investigator from the University of Maryland, College Park. "The data we have received to this point have been tremendous. It is forcing us to rethink what we know about cometary science, and we are still days away from encounter."

On Oct. 26, the spacecraft's two cameras, a High-Resolution Imager (HRI), and a Medium-Resolution-Imager (MRI), caught two jets firing off the comet's surface over a 16-hour period. The spacecraft captured these images from a distance of about 8 million kilometers (5 million miles) away. The data lead mission scientists to believe that both jets originate from similar latitudes on the comet's nucleus.

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Spacecraft Images Comet Target's Jets

"These movies are excellent complements of one and other and really provide some excellent detail of how a comet's jets operate," said A'Hearn. "Observing these jets from EPOXI provides an entirely different viewpoint from what is available for Earth-based observers and will ultimately allow a proper three-dimensional reconstruction of the environment surrounding the nucleus."

The name EPOXI 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 Impact." The mission successfully deployed a projectile into the path of in 1995. The is being "recycled" for the comet Hartley 2 flyby.

Explore further: Italy's first female astronaut heads to ISS in Russian craft

More information: For more information about EPOXI visit www.nasa.gov/epoxi and epoxi.umd.edu/ .

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User comments : 4

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kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (4) Nov 02, 2010
Hopefully it will shed some light on just how long comets can last [ definitely not billions of years, but we already know that ] and also give an indication as to it's physical origins - which will probably rule out the existence of the Oord cloud and show that the Kuiper belt is NOT the home of new comets.
PieRSquare
5 / 5 (2) Nov 02, 2010
which will probably rule out the existence of the Oord cloud
I'm going to go out on a limb and also deny the existence of the "Oord" cloud. Any rational person knows that comets are really angel snowballs that escaped heaven.
Graeme
not rated yet Nov 03, 2010
And another alternative is no edge to the Oort cloud, but a continuous cloud of comets between the stars
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Nov 03, 2010
Hopefully it will shed some light on just how long comets can last [ definitely not billions of years, but we already know that ]
Why not Kev? Enlighten us.
And another alternative is no edge to the Oort cloud, but a continuous cloud of comets between the stars
No way. You'd know if this was the case because the stars wouldn't be clearly visible, we'd see constant obstructions in our view, and we'd have entirely incorrect gravitational and mass calculations.

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