Detail View: NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day Collection: Going Wild

Title: 
Going Wild
Explanation: 
Dynamic jets of gas and dust surround one of the most active [ http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap021019.html ] planetary surfaces in the solar system in this wild-looking picture [ http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news97.html ] of a comet nucleus [ http://www.solarviews.com/eng/edu/comets.htm ]. The comet's designation [ http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/ cometfact.html ] is 81P/Wild 2 of course (sounds like "vilt 2"), and the picture is a composite of two images recorded by the Stardust spacecraft's [ http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/cool.html ] navigation camera during its January 2nd flyby [ http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap040119.html ]. The composited images consist of a short exposure recording startling surface details of Wild 2's nucleus and a longer exposure, taken 10 seconds later, revealing material streaming from the surface. The left edge of the nucleus appears extremely jagged due to a strong shadow. Pitted and eroded after billions of years of outgassing [ http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/comets/ comet_nucleus.html&edu=high ] and meteorite impacts, the nucleus pictured is only about 5 kilometers in diameter, while the jets of dust and gas ultimately leave trails [ http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap000413.html ] millions of kilometers long. Stardust is scheduled to return samples of Wild 2's cometary dust [ http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap010813.html ], picked up during the flyby, to Earth in January 2006.
Credit and Copyright: 
Stardust Team [ http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/news/bios.html ], JPL [ http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ ], NASA [ http://www.nasa.gov/home/index.html ]
facet_when: 
January 2006
facet_where: 
Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)
facet_what: 
COMETS
facet_when_year: 
2006
original url: 
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap040319.html
UID: 
SPD-APOD-ap040319