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Comet captured on video

You've seen the stunning still photos from the Deep Impact probe's close encounter with Comet Hartley 2 on Thursday. Now watch the movie. Today NASA released a video clip that shows how the comet looked as the spacecraft approached to within 435 miles, then journeyed away again. The version above slows down the motion and loops the arrival and departure three times. You can clearly see the jets of gas streaming out from the sun-warmed, peanut-shaped iceball.

The researchers who took part in Deep Impact's EPOXI flyby mission say they'll learn a lot about the nature of comets and the origins of the solar system. And who knows? There might be still another mission awaiting Deep Impact, which took on the Hartley 2 flyby after shooting a bullet at another comet, Tempel 1, five years earlier. To keep up with the mission and the pictures it's still sending back to Earth, click on over to the EPOXI website as well as the mission's Facebook page.

Here's another video clip from MSNBC's "Countdown," in which Franklin Institute astronomer Derrick Pitts talks about the significance of the comet encounter.