It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
In 2005, the Deep Impact probe blew a crater into Tempel 1 with an 800-pound metal slug. Since then, Tempel 1 has completed an orbit around the sun, losing ice and other material to the sun’s hot glare along the way. The new images will give astronomers new insight into how a comet is slowly destroyed by the sun. The spacecraft took a total of 72 science images, 46 as it approached and 26 as it receded from the comet. As it approached, it snapped pictures once every 6 seconds. Stardust-Next, which originally launched as “Stardust” in 1999, swooped within 124 miles of Tempel 1’s icy, dirty core at about 24,300 miles per hour.
The new images started arriving at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California, about three hours after the spacecraft made its closest approach. Each image took 15 minutes to download. The Stardust crew wanted to download the five closest images first, but an unknown error sent the photos in the order in which they were taken. The astronomers had to wait until 6 a.m. Tuesday Pacific time to get the good stuff.
Stardust-Next shot photos of new terrain that had never been seen before, as well as areas on Tempel 1 that had been covered by Deep Impact. The images showed that several regions changed significantly over the past five years. One of the most interesting areas looks like a blanket of material that erupted from beneath the comet’s surface and flowed downhill. That flow is now receding due to erosion, Veverka said.