This composite image was taken by NASA's Stardust spacecraft 42 hours before its encounter with comet Tempel 1. It is the last image by the spacecraft's navigation camera before its encounter in the evening hours of Feb. 14, 2011. The image is a composite of four, five-second exposures.
Stardust-NExT is a low-cost mission that will expand the investigation of comet Tempel 1 initiated by NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages Stardust-NExT for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. Joe Veverka of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., is the mission's principal investigator. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft and manages day-to-day mission operations.
For more information about Stardust-NExT, please visit http://stardustnext.jpl.nasa.gov/.