Ice comet discovery

ITN News

by ITN News

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Nasa scientists have said that their unmanned spacecraft has been hit with ice particles from the Hartley Comet 2.

Tim Larson, Nasa Expoxi Project Manager, explained the incidents occured when the "Deep Impact" was observing the comet.

The spacecraft was able to capture images of the comet, as it swirled and spewed chunks of snow at it.

Luckily, Larson said, the spacecraft was not damaged by the particles some of which were as big as basketballs and they are still continuing to analyse the comet to this day.

"Yes we may have been hit by some of these small particles but none of them were large enough to cause any damage to the spacecraft. That's an important point here. I also like to emphasize a point that November 4th was not the end of the story for this fly-by.

"We are still continuing to collect data. We've collected about 32,000 images of the comet since November 4th. We continue to look at it every two minutes and acquire data. Returning over 3,000 images a day."

This is the first time officials say chunks of ice have been seen around a comet.