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First Close-up Photos of Comet Hartley 2 Reveal a Space Peanut

This is another of the first images sent back to Earth from the NASA's EPOXI mission after it flew by comet Hartley 2 around 7 a.m. PDT (10 a.m. EDT) on Nov. 4, 2010.
This is another of the first images sent back to Earth from the NASA's EPOXI mission after it flew by comet Hartley 2 around 7 a.m. PDT (10 a.m. EDT) on Nov. 4, 2010.
(Image: © NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD)

A NASA spacecraft has beamedback the first close-up photos from its rendezvous with a comet ? and theimages show an ice ball that looks like a giant chicken drumstick, or perhaps apeanut or bowling pin.

Deep Impact zoomed to within435 miles (700 kilometers) of Comet Hartley 2 at 10:01 EDT (1401 GMT) thismorning (Nov. 4), and the probe beamed down its first close-up shots an hourlater. [First close-up photos of Comet Hartley 2.]

Cheers erupted in theMission Control room of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as five high-resolutionimages flashed up on a big screen. In the photos, the comet, which is about 1mile (1.6 km) wide, looks like a big chicken drumstick, or a peanut. [Another photo of Comet Hartley 2.]

The five photos bracket thetime of closest approach. Deep Impact took thousands of images duringthe flyby, and these pictures will continue to flood researchers' computers inthe hours and days to come, researchers have said.

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