The nucleus of comet Wild 2 as photographed by the Stardust spacecraft.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Targeting a Comet
On this day in 2004 NASA's Stardust mission encountered Comet Wild 2, taking detailed images. Before the mission's closest approach, the comet moved from the daytime sky into the nighttime sky and could just barely be observed with telescopes. Tilted close to the horizon, critical observations of the comet's location and brightness were made using the 200-inch Hale Telescope just two weeks prior to the flyby. These observations helped to target the spacecraft to its successful encounter.