Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Comet Hunter's First Images on the Ground

NASA's Stardust-NExT mission transmitted the first image it took during its approach to comet Tempel 1 at 8:35 p.m. PST (11:35 p.m. EST) on Feb. 14, 2011, from a distance of approximately 2,462 kilometers (1,530 miles). The comet was first visited by NASA's Deep Impact mission in 2005. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell. Full image and caption

PASADENA, Calif. -- Mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., have begun receiving the first of 72 anticipated images of comet Tempel 1 taken by NASA's Stardust spacecraft.

The first six, most distant approach images are available at http://www.nasa.gov/stardust and http://www.jpl.nasa.gov. Additional images, including those from closest approach, are being downlinked in chronological order and will be available later in the day.

A news conference previously planned for 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST) will be held later in the day, to allow scientists more time to analyze the data and images. A new time will be announced later this morning.

Stardust-NExT is a low-cost mission that expands on the investigation of comet Tempel 1 initiated by NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages Stardust-NExT for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. Joe Veverka of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., is the mission's principal investigator. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft and manages day-to-day mission operations.

More information about Stardust-NExT is available at http://stardustnext.jpl.nasa.gov .

DC Agle 818-393-9011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington

Blaine Friedlander 607-254-6235
Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.