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Nucleus of Comet Wild 2 - Windows to the Universe

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This picture shows the nucleus of Comet Wild 2. The nucleus is shown from two different angles. Stardust took the pictures at different times as if flew by. Stardust was about 500 km (311 miles) from the nucleus when it took the picture on the left.
Click on image for full size
Images courtesy NASA/JPL.

Nucleus of Comet Wild 2

The pictures on this page show the nucleus of a comet. These are the best pictures ever made of the nucleus of a comet. The nucleus of a comet is a big lump of ice and dust. This one is about five kilometers (3.1 miles) wide.

When we see a bright comet from Earth, we don't see the nucleus. Something that is a few kilometers (miles) across probably seems pretty big to you. But in space something that size if really quite small. When we see a comet from Earth, we see the coma and tails of the comet. Those parts of a comet are much, much bigger than the nucleus.

These two pictures were taken by a spacecraft named Stardust. Stardust flew by a comet named Wild 2. It took these pictures as it flew by. Stardust took these pictures at different times, so it was looking at different sides of the comet each time. That is why the pictures look a little different.

Last modified January 11, 2006 by Randy Russell.

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