NASA's Stardust spacecraft took a picture of the Moon as the spacecraft flew by Earth on Monday, January 15, 2001. The clarity of the image demonstrates the success of efforts to clear the camera of contaminants that had obscured its view.
The Moon image is available at:
The picture shows the kind of detail the team expects to get when the camera flies by Comet Wild 2 in January 2004. Stardust's images of the comet's surface are expected to be 10 times better than any previous picture of comet nuclei. Stardust's camera, which will be used to navigate the spacecraft to the comet, will also take pictures with a 200-millimeter (8-inch) lens.
"We will see the size and shape of the comet and be able to detect small craters, variations in the brightness, dirty dusty areas, and newly iced surfaces," said Tom Duxbury, manager of the Stardust project at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Stardust will also collect dust from the comet to return to Earth for study in laboratories.
Since the picture was composed of over 2,000 shades of gray, many more than the human eye can detect, the Stardust imaging team reduced the image to only about 100 shades of gray, enhancing the contrast between black and white. The image resolves about 7 kilometers (over 4 miles) per pixel across a 3,500-kilometer (2,200-mile) moon.
More information on Stardust is available at http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov
Stardust, a Discovery mission, is managed by JPL for NASA's Office of Space Science. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
JPL is managed for NASA by Caltech, Pasadena, Calif.
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