NASA's Stardust Spaceship Takes High-Res Photos of Comet Tempel 1

Tempel 1, a comet discovered by Wilhelm Tempel in 1867, completes an orbit of the Sun every 5.5 years. This year, it has a Valentine's date with NASA's Stardust robotic space probe -- and new, high-resolution images from the event have just arrived.

Tempel 1 new 2

NASA's Stardust-NExT mission has returned the first high resolution images of comet Tempel 1. This shot was taken at 11:39 p.m. EST on Feb 14, 2011, from a distance of approximately seven hundred miles.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

Tempel 1 new

NASA's Stardust-NExT mission took this image of comet Tempel 1 at 8:39 p.m. PST (11:39 p.m. EST) on Feb 14, 2011, from a distance of approximately 1.13 thousand kilometers (7.04 hundred miles). The comet was first visited by NASA's Deep Impact mission in 2005.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

Tempel 1 new 3

NASA's Stardust-NExT mission took this image of comet Tempel 1 at 8:38 p.m. PST (11:38 p.m. EST) on Feb 14, 2011. 

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

Tempel 1 new 4

NASA's Stardust-NExT mission took this image of comet Tempel 1 at 8:37 p.m. PST (11:37 p.m. EST) on Feb 14, 2011, from a distance of approximately 1.20 thousand kilometers (7.44 hundred miles). 

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

Valentine Comet

Valentine Comet

The Stardust-NExT probe flew to within 112 miles of the comet at 11:39 p.m. EST on Valentine's Day, snapping photos and making measurements all the while. New, high-resolution images should arriving on scientists' computers later today. This was the Tempel 1 comet five minutes before Deep Impact's probe smashed into its surface in 2005.

AP Photo/NASA, JPL

Racing After Tempel 1

Racing After Tempel 1

An artist's rendering depicts the Stardust spacecraft encountering the bright halo of dust and gas surrounding a shimmering Tempel 1 comet. After eyeing the comet for the past four years, a NASA spacecraft will finally make its move. The Stardust craft is expected to fly within 125 miles (200 kilometers) of comet Tempel 1 on Valentine's night, Monday, February 14, 2011, snapping pictures of the surface.

AP Photo/NASA

Be My Valentine

Be My Valentine

The first image of comet Tempel 1 taken by NASA's Stardust spacecraft is a composite made from observations on Jan. 18 and 19, 2011. The panel on the right highlights the location of comet Tempel 1 in the frame. On Valentine's Day, Stardust will fly within about 124 miles of the comet's nucleus.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Close to You

Close to You

The Kitt Peak National Observatory's 2.1-meter telescope observed comet Tempel 1 on April 11, 2005, when the comet was near its closest approach to the Earth.

NASA/NOAO/AURA/NSF

Kapow! Comet Tempel 1 Gets Smacked

Kapow! Comet Tempel 1 Gets Smacked

This image of Comet Tempel 1 was taken by NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft on July 4, 2005, 67 seconds after a probe crashed into the comet.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD

Comet Tempel 1's Dusty Secrets

Deep Insight: Comet Tempel 1's Dusty Secrets

This false-color image shows comet Tempel 1 about 50 minutes after Deep Impact's probe smashed into its surface. The colors represent reflected sunlight, with white indicating the brightest materials and black showing the faintest. This brightness is a measure of reflected sunlight. The Sun is located to the right, out of the picture. The blue speck in the upper left corner is a star.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD

Comet Tempel 1

Tempel 1 Comet

Tempel 1 was first visited by another NASA probe in 2005 when Deep Impact fired a copper bullet into the comet, excavating a crater, shown here.

AP Photo/NASA/JPL/University of Maryland

NASA's Stardust Spaceship Takes High-Res Photos of Comet Tempel 1

Tempel 1, a comet discovered by Wilhelm Tempel in 1867, completes an orbit of the Sun every 5.5 years. This year, it has a Valentine's date with NASA's Stardust robotic space probe -- and new, high-resolution images from the event have just arrived.

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