Fizzy Comet Hartley 2 is Throwing Snowballs

This 3-D image shows the entire nucleus of Hartley 2 with jets and an icy particle cloud. Circles have been added to highlight the location of individual particles. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD/Brown

As Jessica Sunshine said, Comet Hartley 2 might be the smallest of the five comets that spacecraft have visited, but no doubt it is the most interesting, and for its size, the most active. Sunshine is the EPOXI mission deputy principal investigator, and she and her team have had the chance to analyze images from the Nov. 4 flyby of the comet. Closeup views yielded some big surprises: Hartley 2 is throwing snowballs.

“When we first saw all the specks surrounding the nucleus, our mouths dropped,” said Pete Schultz, EPOXI mission co-investigator at Brown University. “Stereo images reveal there are snowballs in front and behind the nucleus, making it look like a scene in one of those crystal snow globes.”

Estimates of the size of the largest particles ranges from a golf ball to a basketball.

(…) Read the rest of Fizzy Comet Hartley 2 is Throwing Snowballs (574 words)

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