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NASA EPOXI mission sets up for comet flyby

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NASA EPOXI mission is on its way towards comet Hartley 2, depicted in this artist's concept, with a planned flyby this fall. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA (BNS): NASA’s EPOXI mission is all set to encounter with the comet Harley-2 on November 4th.

This will be fifth time in history that a comet has been imaged close-up. At point of closest approach, the spacecraft will be about 700 kilometers (435 miles) from the comet.

Time of closest approach to the comet is expected to be about 1502 hrs GMT (1002 hrs EDT).

According to NASA, EPOXI is an extended mission of the Deep Impact spacecraft. The name EPOXI itself is a combination of the names for the two extended mission components -- the Extrasolar Planet Observation and Characterization (EPOCh) and the Deep Impact Extended Investigation (DIXI).

The spacecraft will continue to be referred to as "Deep Impact."

“We are about 23 million miles and 36 days away from our comet. Hartley 2 better not blink, because we'll be screaming by at 12.3 kilometers per second (7.6 miles per second),” Tim Larson, EPOXI mission project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said.

The spacecraft is closing the distance with the comet at a rate of 976,000 kilometers (607,000 miles) per day. As it gets closer, the rate of closure will increase to a little over 1,000,000 kilometers (620,000 miles) per day.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the EPOXI mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

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NASA  comet  spacecraft  
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