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.
- Comet Hartley 2 Gets Visit From Deep Impact Spacecraft
- The Best Comet Photos of All Time
- Deep Impact's Top 10 Comet Crash Images
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Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.