Space: Peering into Halley's Heart

Giotto gets a close look before hitting a "wall of dust"

As the Giotto spacecraft and Halley's comet raced toward each other last week at a closing speed of 155,000 m.p.h., the tension at the European Space Agency's control center in Darmstadt, West Germany, became palpable. Images of the cornet, relayed to the center at intervals of four seconds, loomed larger and larger on television screens, finally yielding by far the best look yet at an elongated shape near Halley's heart. It was the comet's nucleus. Giotto Investigator Wolfgang Schmidt, giving a play-by-play description of the images, could not contain his excitement. "It's obvious that there is structure on this nucleus," he...

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