Hartley 2 Photos: EPOXI Captures Comet Imagery
EPOXI Mission: Hartley 2 Comet Photos
The EPOXI Spacecraft has sent some incredible photos of the Hartley 2 comet as it carries out another part of its mission. This is the first time that the same imaging equipment has been used to photograph two different comets.
The EPOXI mission began with the Deep Impact project, which collided with comet Tempel 1 in 2005. The spacecraft has been busy since then. The link below describes the EPOXI mission in greater detail, or you could just skip to the amazing Hartley 2 comet photos.
The EPOXI craft will get within 435 miles of Hartley 2, snapping photos as it approaches and leaves. Looking back at Hartley 2 will be the flyby spacecraft's dying act, as it will be decommissioned 21 days after reaching the comet.
Most of the comet-science data is collected in the encounter phase which begins in September 2010. A final targeting maneuver may be executed shortly after the phase begins. The trajectory is chosen in such a way that there is always light on the solar panels. Unlike the approach trajectory chosen for the Tempel 1 encounter, the flyby spacecraft does not come close enough to need the protection of its meteoroid shields. After closest approach on November 4, 2010, a 21-day period for look back observations is planned.
Not bad for an 11-foot-long spacecraft.