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Comet Hartley 2 up close and personal (Photos)

This close-up view of the comet Hartley 2 was taken by NASA's EPOXI mission during its flyby of the comet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD)

This is the center of a comet, seen from 435 miles away. The Deep Impact NASA spacecraft captured the images of the comet Hartley 2 in the early hours of Thursday morning, revealing a peanut-shaped rock, spewing poisonous gases.

Deep Impact has been on the trail of comets for years, first sending a probe to crash into the comet Tempel 1 in 2005 to reveal the insides of a comet. Scientists hope the new images will explain how the Earth and the planets formed and evolved because comets are considered the "icy leftovers from the formation of the solar system about 4.5 billion years ago."

This image of comet Hartley 2 was captured by amateur astronomer Byron Bergert on Oct. 6, 2010 in Gainesville, Fla. (Byron Bergert)

By Melissa Bell  | November 5, 2010; 8:13 AM ET
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AWESOME!!! I, personally, often wonder if I'll ever feel good again; stunning new images of objects millions of miles away will do the trick every time! Only two days ago (November 3, 2010), Comet Hartley 2 was just a distant point of light; now, it's a slowly-rotating icy peanut -- beautifully detailed! The spacecraft was originally known as Deep Impact (impacting Comet Tempel 1 on the Fourth of July, 2005), and it was a brilliant success; boy, talk about an encore performance! -- a pick-me-up that is literally out of this world! Now known as the EPOXI Mission, she has just become the first spacecraft to visit TWO comets (rather than just one) -- Congratulations! My next question: I wonder if the astronomers will start giving names to the various features on the comet? And if so, what names? Well, we'll just have to wait and see.


Posted by: rickray777 | November 5, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

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