News / USA

    Stardust Seeks Comet for Valentine's Day Rendezvous

    This image provided by NASA shows comet Tempel 1 at the moment of impact with NASA's Deep Impact probe as it smashed into its surface. The probe crashed between the two dark-rimmed craters near the center and bottom of the comet (File Photo - July 4, 2005
    This image provided by NASA shows comet Tempel 1 at the moment of impact with NASA's Deep Impact probe as it smashed into its surface. The probe crashed between the two dark-rimmed craters near the center and bottom of the comet (File Photo - July 4, 2005

    Ever run into an old flame a few years after you last saw one another and think that he or she looks pretty different, maybe that time or sun exposure have taken their toll? Now, for the first time, scientists are planning to follow up with a different body - a comet - to see how its looks have changed over the years.

    NASA's Stardust-NExT spacecraft has a date with a comet called Tempel 1 on the night of February 14th, which happens to be Valentine's Day. During that rendezvous, with only 200 kilometers between them, the Stardust craft will snap 72 high-resolution pictures of Tempel 1.

    And this is one comet that is used to being in front of the camera.  A NASA mission called Deep Impact took photographs of Tempel 1 about six years ago, on the comet's last orbit of the Sun.

    Joe Veverka, the principal investigator of the Stardust-NExT mission, told reporters at a NASA mission preview briefing last month that this will be the first opportunity to see how a comet changes between two close passages to the sun.

    "We know that comets lose material, but the question is, 'how much does the surface change and where does the surface change?' So we will be able to answer that question by comparing our images with those taken by Deep Impact in 2005," said Veverka.

    During the Deep Impact mission, scientists actually crashed a probe into Tempel 1 and gathered the material it kicked up in order to study the comet's composition.

    Scientists at the NASA briefing said that it will be a bonus if the Stardust spacecraft is able to capture an image of the crater created in that crash.

    NASA says it is important to study comets because astronomers theorize they are part of a collection of gas, ice, rocks and dust that formed the outer planets of our solar system about 4.5-billion years ago.

    Steve Chesley, a Stardust-NExT co-investigator, made it sound a bit sexier.

    "Comets are not just inert, simple objects floating out in space," said Chesley. "They are dynamic. They are active. They are much more like a rocket with no one at the controls than something that is just idling there."

    Sounds like a hot Valentine's date.

    Tempel-1's orbit brings it as close to the sun as the orbit of the planet Mars, and as far from the sun as the orbit of the planet Jupiter. NASA says data from this upcoming mission could help explain the way the Jupiter-family comets formed.

    And this mission is expected to be the grand finale for the Stardust spacecraft, which was part of a mission in 2004 that collected particles directly from yet another comet.

    The Stardust craft has been in space since 1999, and it is nearly out of fuel after traveling about six billion kilometers.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.