Comet Hunting Space Robot Spots Quarry

Stardust, the NASA probe, has downloaded a snapshot of Tempel 1, a comet that the comet seeking craft will sidle up to on February 14th. Here is the picture:


On the night of encounter, the navigation camera will be used to acquire 72 high-resolution images of the comet’s surface features. Stardust-NExT mission scientists will use these images to see how surface features on comet Tempel 1 have changed over the past five-and-a-half years. (Tempel 1 had previously been visited and imaged in July of 2005 by NASA’s Deep Impact mission).

I don’t know why they call it night. Perhaps because NASA is playing up the whole romance theme. Anyway, details here.


  1. #1 Charles Sullivan
    January 27, 2011

    Them’s just fuzzy squares.

  2. #2 Nemo
    January 27, 2011

    Surely the probe uploaded, not downloaded? Although it did send it down to Earth… Hmm, maybe we should just go with “transmitted”.

    And, it’s always night in space.

  3. #3 Eric Lund
    January 27, 2011

    Surely the probe uploaded, not downloaded? Although it did send it down to Earth…

    The terms for the transmission links are “uplink” to the spacecraft and “downlink” to the Earth, because the spacecraft is up there and we’re down here. The terms historically refer to orbiting and suborbital spacecraft, and possibly to aircraft. So yes, it is the opposite of the usage for “upload” and “download”.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    January 27, 2011

    I actually balked at the term “downlinked” because I don’t like the term. It’s not linking, it’s transferring. It always seemed strange to me.

    But yes, I should have said Uploaded, but uploaded makes no sense because the probe is UP there, so downloaded (i.e., downlinked) makes more sense.

    Which is why all rivers flow south, and arctic high pressure systems drop down from Canada into the united states while tropical fronts rise up from the Gulf of Mexico.

  5. #5 gruebait
    January 27, 2011

    “I don’t know why they call it night.”

    Maybe it will be night for the Stardust-NExT mission scientists?

    From the Stardust site:
    Closest Encounter with comet Tempel 1
    8:40 PM PST Feb. 14, 2011