First Close-up Photos of Comet Hartley 2 Reveal a Space Peanut

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A NASA spacecraft has beamed back the first close-up photos from its rendezvous with a comet -- and the images show an ice ball that looks like a giant chicken drumstick, or perhaps a peanut or bowling pin.

Deep Impact zoomed to within 435 miles (700 kilometers) of Comet Hartley 2 at 10:01 EDT (1401 GMT) this morning (Nov. 4), and the probe beamed down its first close-up shots an hour later. [First close-up photos of Comet Hartley 2.]

Cheers erupted in the Mission Control room of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as five high-resolution images flashed up on a big screen. In the photos, the comet, which is about 1 mile (1.6 km) wide, looks like a big chicken drumstick, or a peanut. [Another photo of Comet Hartley 2.]

The five photos bracket the time of closest approach. Deep Impact took thousands of images during the flyby, and these pictures will continue to flood researchers' computers in the hours and days to come, researchers have said.

* Comet Hartley 2 Gets Visit From Deep Impact Spacecraft

* The Best Comet Photos of All Time

* Deep Impact's Top 10 

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