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Space Shuttle Images of Comet Hale-Bopp

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Observer: STS-85 Astronauts
Location: Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-85), Earth Orbit
Date: August 9, 1997

1. A narrow portion of the first, quick-reduction, SWUIS Hale-Bopp comet acquisition image taken from Discovery is shown here with minimal processing.

2 & 3. This image consists of a brief burst of coadded SWUIS data taken aboard STS-85 on 9 Aug 1997 during the first SWUIS imaging run. Seen here is an image formed by coadding approximately 2200 frames of broadband data. Both comet Hale-Bopp (at 3 AU heliocentric distance) and a number of background field stars can be seen. The left and right panels are different logarithmic stretches of the same coadded image, depicting different details in the image. The field of view of this image is about 0.5x0.6 deg, corresponding to a linear scale of ~4.0e6x4.8e6 km. The Sun is to the lower right. During STS-85, SWUIS imaged Hale-Bopp on 9 orbits over a period of 5 days, gathering more than 400,000 useful images in the visible and UV. The actual flight data have not yet been returned to us, but preliminary coadds such as these from downlinked SWUIS video reveal that good signal was received on the comet during each run on orbit.

4. A false-color 23s integration of comet Hale-Bopp obtained during the aquisition for Discovery's 2nd orbit of SWUIS observations.

Alan Stern
astern@swri.edu


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