The first image of comet Tempel 1 taken by NASA's Stardust spacecraft
made from observations on Jan. 18 and 19, 2011. The panel on the right
highlights the location of comet Tempel 1 in the frame.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA's Stardust probe will flyby Tempel 1 and give scientists an opportunity to look for changes on the comet's surface since it was visited by NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft in July 2005. Since then, Tempel 1 has completed one orbit of the sun, and scientists are looking forward to monitoring any differences in the comet.
On January 18 and 19 Stardust captured its first images of Comet Temple 1 from a distance of 26.3 million kilometers (16.3 million miles), and 25.4 million kilometers (15.8 million miles) respectively. On February 14, Stardust will fly within about 200 kilometers of the comet's nucleus.
During its 12 years in space, Stardust became the first spacecraft to collect samples of a comet (Wild 2) in 2004, which were sent in 2006 to Earth for study. (read more)