Comet 103P / Hartley 2 – Rendezvous

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology has released this video of Comet Hartley. The images were taken by the EPOXI spacecraft at one hour intervals from 28 October to 3 November 2010 during the approach. The rotation of the comet nucleus is clearly shown and the gases are being spewed most actively from one end.

Video Credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology

This image was taken during the approach at 7:59 AM Phoenix time (13:59 UTC) on 4 November. The Sun is to the right.

Hartley 2 816 km
Comet Hartley 2 from EPOXI at 816 km
Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UMD

The nucleus of Hartley 2 is about 2 km long and 0.4 km wide at the most narrow section. Active jets are clearly visible.

Hartley 2 700 km
Comet Hartley 2 at 700 km.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD

Below is a montage of the five comets visited by spacecraft and photographed up close. Hartley 2 at 1.25 miles in length is by far the smallest of the five comets, but has the most intense activity in relation to its surface area.

Comets
Five Comets visited by Spacecraft
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD

Comet 9P Tempel 1 (4.7 miles), was impacted on 4 July 2005 by NASA’s Deep Impact mission, later re-purposed for the Hartley 2 rendezvous.

Comet 19P Borrelly (5.4 miles) was photographed in 2001 by the spacecraft Deep Space 1.

Comet 81P Wild 2 (3.4 miles) was visited by the Stardust mission in 1999. The mission returned samples of the comet’s tail.

Comet Halley (9.3 miles) was visited in 1986 by the Giotto mission and the Vega program.