Just one year before its Feb. 14 encounter with comet Tempel 1, NASAs Stardust spacecraft performed the largest rocket burn of its extended life. With the spacecraft on the opposite side of the solar system and beyond the orbit of Mars, the comet hunters rockets fired for 22 minutes and 53 seconds, changing the spacecrafts speed by 24 meters per second (54 mph).
Mission controllers at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., watched as data downlinked from the Stardust spacecraft indicated it completed its closest approach with comet Tempel 1. An hour after closest approach, the spacecraft turned to point its large, high-gain antenna at Earth.
NASAs Stardust-NExT mission spacecraft is within a quarter-million miles (402,336 kilometers) of its quarry, comet Tempel 1, which it will fly by tonight. The spacecraft is cutting the distance with the comet at a rate of about 10.9 kilometers per second (6.77 miles per second or 24,000 mph).
A bonus round is something one usually associates with the likes of a TV game show, not a pioneering deep space mission.
NASAs Stardust spacecraft marked its 12th anniversary in space on Monday, Feb. 7, with a rocket burn to further refine its path toward a Feb. 14 date with a comet.
Just over two weeks before its flyby of comet Tempel 1, NASAs Stardust spacecraft fired its thrusters to help refine its flight path toward the comet. The Stardust-NExT mission will fly past comet Tempel 1 on Valentines Day (Feb. 14, 2011).
A new Comet Observing Planner tool has been added to the COBS website.
NASAs NEOWISE mission has completed its survey of small bodies, asteroids and comets, in our solar system. The missions discoveries of previously unknown objects include 20 comets, more than 33,000 asteroids in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, and 134 near-Earth objects (NEOs). The NEOs are asteroids and comets with orbits that come within 45 million kilometers (28 million miles) of Earths path around the sun.
NASAs Stardust spacecraft has downlinked its first images of comet Tempel 1, the target of a flyby planned for Valentines Day, Feb. 14. The images were taken on Jan. 18 and 19 from a distance of 26.3 million kilometers (16.3 million miles), and 25.4 million kilometers (15.8 million miles) respectively. On Feb. 14, Stardust will fly within about 200 kilometers (124 miles) of the comets nucleus.
NASAs Stardust-NExT spacecraft is nearing a celestial date with comet Tempel 1 at approximately 11:37 p.m. EST, on Feb. 14. The mission will allow scientists for the first time to look for changes on a comets surface that occurred following an orbit around the sun.