Astronomy Picture of the Day
October 2, 2012

Tempel-1 (Part I)
Tempel-1 (Part I)

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech - Stardust Project - Cornell University; Credits fo the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF

Today's APOD is an image mosaic that shows us 4 different views of the Comet Tempel-1, as it was seen by the NASA - Stardust-NeXt Spacecraft when it flew by it, on February 14, 2011. The images progress in time beginning at upper left, moving to upper right, then proceeding from lower left to lower right. When the Spacecraft first approached the Comet, it got a clear look at the same Surface that was imaged previously by another Spacecraft: the NASA - Deep Impact Spacecraft, in 2005. Remember that the Deep Impact Spacecraft sent a projectile into the Comet, creating a crater that is located in the upper left image (but is difficult to see at this particular contrast level).
As Stardust flew closer to the Comet, it began to see a New Territory that had not been imaged before. The New Territory appears on the left side of the upper right image. The Deep Impact Crater is also located in this view, on the right side.

Both the upper right and lower left images are the Closest Approach Images for Stardust, taken at 3" before, and 3" after it. These images were taken from a distance of about 185 Km (approx. 115 miles) from the Comet. In the lower left image, the vast majority of Terrain that is pictured had not been seen until now. The fourth image, at lower right, shows Stardust's view as the Spacecraft was on the way out.
The image at upper left was taken 15" before the Encounter (or Closest Approach) with the Comet, from a distance of approx. 244 Km (about 152 miles); on the other hand, the image at lower right was taken 15" after the Encounter, and from a distance of approx. 245 Km (such as about 152 miles) from Tempel-1.

The frames forming this image-mosaic (which is the Original NASA - Stardust-NeXT Spacecraft image mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 13860) has been additionally processed and then colorized, according to an informed speculation carried out by Dr Paolo C. Fienga (LXTT-IPF), in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Stardust-NeXT Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the Comet Tempel-1), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team. Different colors, as well as different shades of the same color, mean, among others, the existence of different Elements present on the Surface of Tempel-1, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

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