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A NASA spacecraft called Stardust brushes past the Tempel 1 Comet for a Valentine’s Day photo session. On its final mission, Stardust captured high-resolution images as it orbited past the comet.
There’s been a romantic celestial encounter in the stars.
NASA’s spacecraft, Stardust-NExT, flew within 124 miles of the Tempel 1 Comet for Valentine’s Day, at about 11:30pm Eastern Standard Time.
This was a unique opportunity to study the comet.
The unmanned spacecraft took 72 high-resolution pictures as it orbited past the comet at more than 24 thousand miles per hour.
NASA previously examined this comet back in the summer of 2005, when it was inbound toward the sun on its orbit between Mars and Jupiter.
[Tim Larson, Stardust Next Project Manager]:
"It is the very first time we have been to a comet twice and with close approaches being able to image it twice on successive peri-helium passes. Exciting new opportunities to see what happens to these comets when they come near to the sun.”
What would Cupid think about all this activity on his special day?