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    Comet close encounter for Nasa


    by ODN


    Scientists at Nasa are looking forward to a late night close encounter for Valentines' Day, as they study a comet at close range.

    The Stardust-NExT (New Exploration of Tempel 1) mission will fly by comet Tempel 1, providing a unique opportunity to survey the comet. The unmanned Nasa spacecraft is expected to fly within 125 miles of Temple 1.

    Nasa last observed Temple 1 in 2005, when it was inbound toward the Sun on its approximately 5.5-year orbit between Mars and Jupiter. The Deep Impact spacecraft slammed into the comet causing a cloud of fine, powdery material to be expelled.

    The spacecraft will take 72 high-resolution pictures as it travels past the comet at more than 24,000 miles per hour.