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.

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

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):

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

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.

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