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EPOXI: Countdown to Comet Flyby
10.26.10
 
NASA's EPOXI mission continues to close in on its target, comet Hartley 2, at a rate of 28,000 miles per hour. On Nov. 4, 2010, at about 10:01 a.m. EDT (7:01 a.m. PDT) the spacecraft will make its closest approach at a distance of about 435 miles. It will be the fifth time that a comet has been imaged close-up.


Center Contact: DC Agle, 818-393-9011
HQ Contact: Dwayne Brown,202-358-1726
www.nasa.gov/epoxi


Mike A' Hearn

(:22)  The Epoxi mission is an extended mission for the Deep Impact flyby spacecraft. After we went pass comet Tempel 1 and drove an impactor into I, we spent a year on more observing extrasolar planets and we are not on target for a flyby of comet Hartley 2 on November 4.
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(:21)  The flyby spacecraft will be going passed comet Hartley 2, which is a rather different kind of comet than was Tempel 1. In particular, the nucleus is much smaller, but it's also much more active in releasing gas and dust, so we expect to find differences on the nucleus that will help us explain how the comet works.
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Tim Larson

(:24) Every time we fly by a comet, we're surprised with what we see. We see new things that raise a lot of new questions. And so this is a really unique opportunity to be able to go in and do some straight up comparison between two different comets and being able to see what futures that are common between them. What kinds of features are really primordial, from when they're first formed and are common to all comets? What features change with each orbit as they come around the sun?
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(:17) We accomplished our primary mission back at Tempel 1 in 2005 and now this is an opportunity to take this same instrument suite and go compare not only a new body, but a new comet. So we're saying within the same family of bodies that it was originally designed to study and be able to do straight comparisons from one comet to other on what we see.
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Malcolm Hartley

(:24) We were conducting a survey of the southern sky in the red part of the spectrum – photographic  survey with the UK Schmidt Telescope telescope. Everyday after we do the photography at night,  we develop the plates and then we quality control them. It was during the process of quality  control, scanning the plates, that I discovered a faint, very faint trail on the plate,  which I suspected maybe a comet.
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(:21) Two decades pass and you get an email , and somebody says ,"Wow! NASA is going  to fly a spacecraft very close to the comet that you discovered 24  years ago, and how do you feel about that?" Well, you feel very excited about it and  it kind of brings it all back to you.  But I can't remember exactly how I felt  24 years ago. But now, I'm very excited.
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