Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Stardust-NeXT Visits Comet Tempel 1...

After its initial mission was successfully completed, the Stardust robotic explorer had some extra fuel.  After holding a contest for ideas on what to do with this, NASA picked a proposal to revisit the comet Tempel 1, which was first visited by the Deep Impact mission back in 2005.  NASA named this new “bonus” mission Stardust-NeXT

After a lot of work and some very tricky orbital mechanics (to keep the fuel use low), on Valentine's Day (Monday) Stardust-NeXT made a successful near pass to comet Tempel 1, collecting all sorts of science data including a spectacular series of images like the one at right (via APOD, of course).

Total cost of this scientifically fruitful mission: less than the cost of shipping Tang to the International Space Station.


1 comment:

  1. mmmmm Tang.... I remember as a little kid some sort of "astronaut food" in foil packets that my aunt bought for me. I was fascinated with anything "space"