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Space Shuttle Image of Comet Hale-Bopp

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shuttle5_s.jpg31K
Observer: STS-85 Astronauts
Location: Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-85), Earth Orbit
Date: August 12, 1997

This image consists of a brief burst of coadded SWUIS data taken aboard STS-85 on 12 Aug 1997 during the second SWUIS imaging run. Seen here is an image formed by coadding approximately 1000 frames of broadband data. Both comet Hale-Bopp (at 3 AU heliocentric distance) and a large number of background field stars can be seen. The field of view of this image is about 0.15x0.10 deg, corresponding to a linear scale of ~1.2e6x0.8e6 km. The image is presented with log scaling to show parts of the coma with large brightness differences. The Sun is to the right. During STS-85 SWUIS imaged Hale-Bopp on 9 orbits over a period of 5 days, gathering more than 300,000 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.

Alan Stern
astern@swri.edu


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