Comet Wild 2 Up Close and Personal

On January 2, 2004 NASA’s Stardust spacecraft made a close flyby of comet Wild 2 (pronounced “Vilt-2”). Among the equipment the spacecraft carried on board was a navigation camera. This is the 34th of the 72 images taken by Stardust’s navigation camera during close encounter. The exposure time was 10 milliseconds. The two frames are actually of 1 single exposure. The frame on the left depicts the comet as the human eye would see it. The frame on the right depicts the same image but “stretched” so that the faint jets emanating from Wild 2 can be plainly seen. Comet Wild 2 is about five kilometers (3.1 miles) in diameter. http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA05571

Comet Wild 2 – Jet Release

This composite image was taken by the navigation camera during the close approach phase of Stardust’s Jan 2, 2004 flyby of comet Wild 2. Several large depressed regions can be seen. Comet Wild 2 is about five kilometers (3.1 miles) in diameter. To create this image, a short exposure image showing tremendous surface detail was overlain on a long exposure image taken just 10 seconds later showing jets. Together, the images show an intensely active surface, jetting dust and gas streams into space and leaving a trail millions of kilometers long. http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA05578