Successful flyby of comet Tempel 1

The Stardust-NExT spacecraft successfully completed its flyby of comet Tempel 1 on Monday. Related press releases are on the Stardust-NExT web site. 72 images were taken during the flyby, which can be seen here and here. A few are posted below.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell
Four views of comet Tempel 1. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell
Comparison of views from Deep Impact (2005) and Stardust-NExT (2011). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

Tempel 1 was first visited by the Deep Impact mission in 2005, which also “hit” the comet with an impactor, creating a small crater which can still be seen today, and was photographed by Stardust-NExT:

Location of impact site of impactor from Deep Impact, before and after. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

This is the last planned encounter for the spacecraft, as it is now running out of fuel. It had previously visited the comet Wild 2 and returned samples to Earth for analysis in 2006 before continuing on to Tempel 1. Not bad!