NASA Probe Has a Valentine's Date With a Comet
Stardust spacecraft will cozy up to Tempel 1 tonight.
The comet, known as Tempel 1, is no stranger to spacecraft: NASA's Deep Impact mission got close enough in 2005 to launch an impactor into the core—or nucleus—of the icy object, sending up a cloud of debris.
The spacecraft took numerous pictures for study before speeding on toward its next rendezvous. (See "NASA Probe Closing in on 'Poisonous' Comet Hartley 2.")
The 3.7-mile-wide (6-kilometer-wide) Tempel 1 has since had plenty of time to get over its first "love"—the comet has made a complete trip around the sun.
Tonight Tempel 1 will be stepping out with a new dance partner, NASA's office desk-size