Applause erupted in EPOXI Mission Control at NASA JPL after the spacecraft transmitted close-up images of comet Hartley 2. NASA’s EPOXI mission spacecraft successfully flew past comet Hartley 2 at 7 a.m. PDT (10 a.m. EDT) Thursday, Nov. 4. Scientists say initial images from the flyby provide new information about the comet’s volume and material spewing from its surface.
Images from the EPOXI mission reveal comet Hartley 2 to have 100 times less volume than comet Tempel 1, the first target of Deep Impact. More revelations about Hartley 2 are expected as analysis continues. Initial estimates indicate the spacecraft was about 700 kilometers (435 miles) from the comet at the closest-approach point. That’s almost the exact distance that was calculated by engineers in advance of the flyby.