NASA’s spacecraft Stardust has finally sent the images of his encounter with the comet Tempel 1 (read more about it here). All the pictures are already available here, from the most distant approach images to the closest one.
At its closest approach, Stardust was only 178 kilometers away from Tempel 1’s nucleus. Tempel 1 was already visited by Deep Impact in 2005, and researchers will be able to estimate how the comet has changed since then: Starduct was indeed able to photograph the same area Deep Impact photographed six years ago.
The crater left by the impactor from Deep Impact is also visible in a few pictures (it is extremely difficult to see):
Tempel 1 was Stardust’s last stop; the spacecraft will keep taking pictures of the comet for a few more days, before it is finally put to rest in the dark vastness of space.