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Emily LakdawallaJanuary 26, 2011

Stardust update: Tempel 1 Ahoy!

It is with great relief that I now report that JPL announced this evening the sighting of Tempel 1 by Stardust, a mere month before the planned flyby. It's not that I didn't think Stardust would be able to find the comet; but the longer it took for the faint fuzz to show up in the images, the harder it would be for the spacecraft (which is very low on fuel) to set itself up for the flyby. Hooray and congratulations to the Stardust team! Tempel 1 ahoy!

Stardust's first sight of Tempel 1

NASA/JPL/UMD

Stardust's first sight of Tempel 1
Stardust first sighted its second comet on January 18 and 19, less than a month before its planned flyby of Tempel 1 on February 15, 2010. This is a composite image (likely a stack) of several taken over a period of two days, showing the faint fuzz of the comet against a background of stars and noise in the camera system.

Read more: mission status, comet Tempel 1, Stardust

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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