Comet Rendevous

21 Jan 2011

NASAs Stardust NExT spacecraft is nearing a rendevous with Comet Tempel on February 14th (see http://stardustnext.jpl.nasa.gov/ ). The mission is designed to look for changes on the surface of the comet following its recent orbit around the Sun - what effects did coming close to the Sun have on the comet? It will image composition, distribution and flux of dust emitted into the coma and material surrounding the comet nucleus. In 2005 Deep Impact delivered an impacter to the surface of Tempel and looking for a crater is a secondary factor imaging might resolve.