Comet Gets a NASA Fly-By

JPL scientists are elated to get the first images of the Valentine's Day date with a comet

Tuesday, Feb 15, 2011  |  Updated 8:00 AM PDT
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A NASA spacecraft flew by a comet half the size of Manhattan for a nighttime rendezvous on Valentine's Day.

The Stardust craft, speeding at 24,000 mph, came within 112 miles of the surface of comet Tempel 1 on Monday. The event included live commentary from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

Click here for NASA's Date With a Comet video.

Scientists and engineers clapped when they received a signal from Stardust craft that it had snapped six dozen pictures as planned.

It's the first time that a comet has been visited by two different spacecraft.

In 2005, another NASA craft named Deep Impact unleashed a copper bullet that carved a crater on Tempel 1.

Scientists plan to study then-and-now images to look for changes on the surface.

It'll take several hours for all the pictures and other data from the flyby to reach Earth.

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