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Surface changes on Tempel 1

Surface changes on Tempel 1

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NASA / JPL / Cornell

Surface changes on Tempel 1
There were changes in the surface of comet Tempel 1 between the time it was first observed by Deep Impact on July 4, 2005 (top right), and by Stardust on February 15, 2011 (bottom right). Between the two visits, the comet made one trip around the sun. The image at top left is a wider shot from Deep Impact. The smooth terrain is at a higher elevation than the more textured surface around it. Scientists think that cliffs, illustrated with yellow lines to the right, are being eroded back to the left in this view. The cliffs appear to have eroded as much as 20 to 30 meters in some places, since Deep Impact took the initial image. The box shows depressions that have merged together over time, also from erosion. This erosion is caused by volatile substances evaporating away from the comet.

Most NASA images are in the public domain. Reuse of this image is governed by NASA's image use policy.

Original image data dated on or about February 15, 2011

Explore related images: pretty pictures, Deep Impact, comets, comet Tempel 1, explaining science

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