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.

Comet 103P/Hartley 2 – 30 Days from Closest Approach

Rendezvous Hartley 2
EPOXI orbit and Rendezvous with Hartley 2
Image Credit:
NASA / JPL-Caltech / UMD / GSFC / Tony Farnham

Hartley 2
Comet 103P/Hartley 2 on 25 September 2010
Image Credit: Credit: NASA / JPL / UMD

The Deep Impact spacecraft, re-purposed as EPOXI for the encounter with comet Hartley 2, is now 30 days from its rendezvous on 4 November 2010.

The image above left shows the orbit of the Earth, EPOXI and comet Hartley 2 leading up to the rendezvous.

The image above right is the most recent image of Hartley 2 taken from the Deep Impact spacecraft.

Additional information on the mission can be found here.

NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer spacecraft captured this image of Hartley 2 in May of 2010.

Hartley 2 - WISE
Hartley 2 Imaged by WISE
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

Hartley 2 – First Image from Deep Impact

Hartley 2
Hartley 2 Seen from Deep Impact
Image Credit: NASA / JPL / UM

NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft, repurposed as EPOXI, has a rendezvous with Comet Hartley 2 on 4 November 2010.

From NASA’s press release:

EPOXI is an extended mission that utilizes the already “in flight” Deep Impact spacecraft to explore distinct celestial targets of opportunity. The name EPOXI itself is a combination of the names for the two extended mission components: the extrasolar planet observations, called Extrasolar Planet Observations and Characterization (EPOCh), and the flyby of comet Hartley 2, called the Deep Impact Extended Investigation (DIXI). The spacecraft will continue to be referred to as “Deep Impact.”

Comet Hartley 2 – Update

Animation
Image Credit: Copyright © 2010 by Bernhard Haeusler (Maidbronn, Germany)
The technical details for the animation as given by Bernhard Haeusler are: 20 x 1 min. exposure, 2010-09-02 UT 01:13, 12″ SCT f-5.65 + CCD ST-10XME 12.51 mag (60×60 box), coma: 8′, tail: 1’40” in PA208

Special thanks go to Bernhard Haeusler for the great animation of comet Hartley 2 shown at the left. The animation was released yesterday morning.

The comet is currently leaving the constellation of Pegasus and will approach Casseopeia at the end of September. By the beginning of the second week of October, Hartley 2 will be between Cassiopeia and Perseus, and very near M76 (the Little Dumbbell Nebula).

Meanwhile, the EPOXI spacecraft is gearing up for the flyby of comet 103 P / Hartley 2. With the closest approach scheduled for 4 November 2010, the spacecraft is beginning its encounter phase.

Key observations will include:

  • Spectral maps of gas outbursts as the comet rotates.
  • Infrared maps of the gasses in the inner coma.
  • Search for frozen deposits such as water ice and carbon dioxide on the surface.
  • Determine the size of the nucleus using photographic images.
  • Locate surface features including craters and their distribution and sizes.
  • Map the temperature variations on the surface.

Hartley 2 will make its closest approach to Earth this coming 20 October 2010 and its closest approach to the Sun eight days later on 28 October. It should approach magnitude 5 and be visible to the naked eye in dark regions away from cities.

For additional information on Hartley 2, see our previous post.

Let us know what you think. What do you want to know about? Post a comment.

Asteroids and Comets Visited By Spacecraft

Emily Lakdawalla has built a montage of the nine asteroids (ten bodies) and four comets visited by human spacecraft and posted it on the blog at The Planetary Society. Beautiful work.


Montage

Asteroid and Comet Montage

Credits: Montage by Emily Lakdawalla. Ida, Dactyl, Braille, Annefrank, Gaspra, Borrelly: NASA / JPL / Ted Stryk. Steins: ESA / OSIRIS team. Eros: NASA / JHUAPL. Itokawa: ISAS / JAXA / Emily Lakdawalla. Mathilde: NASA / JHUAPL / Ted Stryk. Lutetia: ESA / OSIRIS team / Emily Lakdawalla. Halley:: Russian Academy of Sciences / Ted Stryk. Tempel 1: NASA / JPL / UMD. Wild 2: NASA / JPL.

Let us know what you think. What do you want to know about? Post a comment.

Images of Lutetia

Rosetta
Lutetia from 60,000 km.
Image Credit: (C) ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

The Rosetta spacecraft has now completed its fly-by of 21/Lutetia, discovered in 1852 by Hermann Goldschmidt from his Paris balcony. Lutetia was his first discovery, and the 21st confirmed asteroid. Goldschmidt would ultimately discover 13 more asteroids (Nos. 32,36,40,41,44,45,48,49,52,54,56,61 and 70).

Following the fly-by of Lutetia, Rosetta is headed for comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (C-G) in 2014. Rosetta will spend two years circling the comet and observing its behavior as C-G plunges from 500 million miles from the Sun to 120 million miles at perihelion,and then back out towards the orbit of Jupiter.

While orbiting C-G, Rosetta will release Philae, designed to land on the comet.

Below are the latest release of images from the Rosetta OSIRIS camera of the Asteroid Lutetia.

Note the planet Saturn with its rings, sitting above the asteroid in the first image below, left.

See previous posts on Lutetia and Rosetta: Rosetta Encounters Lutetia and Rosetta.

Rosetta
Closing on Lutetia with Saturn above.
Image Credit: (C) ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Rosetta
Leaving Lutetia – Night side.
Image Credit: (C) ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Rosetta
Lutetia Closest Approach
Image Credit: (C) ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Rosetta
Lutetia – Crater Close Up
Image Credit: (C) ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Rosetta
Lutetia – GroovesClose Up
Image Credit: (C) ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Let us know what you think. What do you want to know about? Post a comment.

Rosetta Encounters Lutetia

Rosetta
Artist Conception of Rosetta fly by
of Asteroid Lutetia on 10 July 2010

Image Credit: ESA, image by C.Carreau

See the previous post on Rosetta and Lutetia : Rosetta.

At 9:10 AM Phoenix time (16:10 UTC), Rosetta will make its closest approach to Lutetia. It will fly by at a separation of 3,200 kilometres, at a relative speed of 54,000 km/hr. They will be some 454 million km from Earth. Approximately two hours of high quality imaging will be recorded, which will be immediately piped back to Earth. The time of closest approach is currently estimated (8 July) at .

The first images to be received back from the comet-chasing spacecraft Rosetta should occur at 2:00 PM Phoenix time (21:00UTC), when ESA resumes its media coverage (see schedule below). 21-Lutetia is a large main belt asteroid, and you can follow the event live at ESA, beginning at 9:00 AM Phoenix time (16:00 UTC).

The ESA Media Schedule:

  • 09:00:00 Start media event live from ESA/ESOC
  • 09:05:07 Stop – radio communications via high-gain antenna – Loss of signal (earliest)
  • 09:10:07 Closest approach to Lutetia
  • 09:20:07 End asteroid closed-loop tracking
  • 09:45:07 Resume radio communications via high-gain antenna – Acquisition of signal (latest)
  • 09:47:00 Media event pause
  • 11:05:35 Start science data downlink
  • 14:00:00 Resume media event – Science team presents data
  • 14:45:00 End media event

The latest image released by ESA shows Lutetia as seen from Rosetta.

This image was acquired by Rosetta’s OSIRIS imaging system and shows asteroid 21 Lutetia from a distance of 2 million km, rapidly decreasing, and was acquired by the Narrow Angle Camera of OSIRIS on 8 July 2010 at around 6:00 PM Phoenix Time (9 July 2010 – 01:00 UTC).

Loss of signal occurred at 9:06 AM Phoenix time.

Closest approach has now occurred at 9:10 AM.

At 9:20 AM, we are 30 minutes from reacquiring the Rosetta signal.

Below is the latest image from Rosetta at 80,000 km from Lutetia.

At 9:45 AM, we have telemetry from Rosetta. Congratulations.

Telemetry indicates that the Rosetta spacecraft is healthy and performing nominally.

Realtime numbers for Rosetta can be found at Daniel Muller’s web site.

Rosetta
Lutetia from 2 million kilometers
Image Credit: SA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Rosetta
Explanation of the Lutetia Fly – by
Image Credit: ESA TV

Lutetia’s image on the right shows a resolution of about 2 kilometres per pixel, as was taken from about 60-80,000 kilometres. The asteroid is about 130 km by 85 km.

Four hours from now we should get images with a resolution of about 60 metres per pixel.

At this point, the ESA media event has paused. It will resume in about four hours.

We will post images as they become available.

At 10:40 AM Phoenix time, the science download has begun.

Rosetta
Lutetia from 60,000 km.
Image Credit: (C) ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA