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Comet Hartley 2

Image of Comet Hartley 2
CLOSE UP OF COMET HARTLEY 2: After its encounter with comet Tempel 1 in 2005, NASA recycled its Deep Impact spacecraft and deployed it on a new mission, EPOXI, to investigate comet Hartley 2. The mission’s objectives include understanding how comets form and evolve by comparing EPOXI observations with prior observations of other comets. The spacecraft made its closest approach with Hartley 2 on November 4, 2010. Preliminary observations show a very active comet! The main region of jet activity originates from the rough lobe on the Sun-facing side of the nucleus. It is powered by the release of subsurface carbon dioxide, propelling water ice and dust into the coma with it. As scientists continue to study the data, they are able to track the jets to individual topographic features on the comet’s nucleus, yet as more observations arise, so do more questions! Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD
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