Want a unique and innovative way to spend Valentine’s day with your sweetheart? Gather your favorite people around the computer or the NASA channel to see something historical.
Monday the NASA’s Stardust spacecraft will fire up its camera as it comes face-to-face with a crater that was created six years ago by a NASA space probe. In 2005 the Deep Impact probe crashed into the comet, “Tempel 1,” at 23,000 mph, sending a huge plume of debris. This will be the first time we’ve seen pictures of the damage to the comet made by the impact.
Check out this NASA video of the impact itself:
Comets are irregular bodies of ice and dust that orbit the sun, and these photos are expected to yield some new learnings about them.
The Stardust spacecraft launched in 1999 and has traveled 3 1/2 billion miles. For the past four years NASA has targeted Valentine’s Day 2011 for a rendezvous date with the comet. The Stardust will fly within 124 miles of the comet, and will snap 72 pictures as it passes by. The photos will be beamed back to Earth and then uploaded on NASA TV and on the NASA website.