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The video above was created by Daniel Macháček (of UnmannedSpaceflight.com fame) and shows a smoothed-out version of Deep Impact’s (d.b.a. EPOXI) now-world-famous pass of Comet 103P/Hartley 2 on November 4, 2010. Using Squirlz Morph freeware he was able to use five close-up images from the spacecraft and turn them into an animation that portrays a very nice first-person view of the comet’s 1.25-mile-long bowling pin-shaped nucleus. Ingenious!
The animation plays at five times the actual speed of the encounter, belying the 27,000 mph velocity of the EPOXI spacecraft! Going nearly twenty times the speed of a bullet fired here on Earth, a successful 435-mile pass by a comet traveling 300 miles a second – and 23 million miles away – is, in my opinion, a pretty freakin’ amazing feat of engineering.
Credit: NASA / Daniel Macháček