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:

i-3306df80bb94f895b3a23d039a317f7b-comet.jpg

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.

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On the left is the comet minding its own business. On the right is a blobish roundish area where NASA's impactor probe hit the comet. I know, I know, it looks mainly like they just unfocused the image. It turns out that many of the images in the "after" sequence have a crappy focus, but there are…
This just in from NASA: PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Stardust spacecraft sent its last transmission to Earth at 4:33 .m. PDT (7:33 p.m. EDT) Thursday, March 24, shortly after depleting fuel and ceasing operations. During a 12-year period, the venerable spacecraft collected and returned comet…
NASA's Stardust-NExT mission took this image of comet Tempel 1 at 8:39 p.m. PST (11:39 p.m. EST) on Feb 14, 2011. The comet was first visited by NASA's Deep Impact mission in 2005. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell PASADENA, Calif. -- Mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,…
Recently my mind has been blown twice. First by listening to the first four songs on Funkadelic's acid-drenched 1970 album Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow. Then by studying the above picture. It's comet Tempel 1. Up close in interplanetary space. And it's been visited twice by different…

Them's just fuzzy squares.

By Charles Sullivan (not verified) on 26 Jan 2011 #permalink

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.

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".

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 27 Jan 2011 #permalink

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.

"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