Deep Impact captures comet Hartley 2 engulfed in snowstorm

NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft, which is speeding at 27,000 miles per hour, flew within 435 miles of Hartley 2 on 4th of November, and captured some very interesting images of the comet.

Comet Hartley 2 could be the smallest of the five comets that the spacecraft has visited, but it the most interesting as it is engulfed by snowstorm.

The captured images showed a twenty-mile wide ice cloud around the comet Hartley 2. Some chunks of ice were as large as a basketball.

Scientists at NASA are saying that they have never seen such a thing before. Jessica Sunshine, science team member from Maryland University said, "Comet Hartley 2 is not like the other comets we've visited."

According to the scientists, the ice cloud surrounding the comet was driven by jets of CO2 shooting from the interior of the comet. As the CO2 discharged, it carried tons of ice with it. As the snow is driven by jets, it is snowing up, rather than down.

Project manager Tim Larson from Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the $42 million mission, claimed that the spacecraft was hit nine times by chunks of ice, but it was not damaged.

Studying comets could throw more light on how planets like Earth formed and evolved.