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Caption: The Deep Impact spacecraft was launched from Earth on 12 Jan 2005 (yellow ellipse). After its encounter with Tempel 1 (green arc), the Deep Impact flyby spacecraft continued in its orbit (yellow ellipse) around the sun and back to the first of several flybys of Earth. The new trajectories are white dashed lines which are difficult to see because they seem to overlap the Earth's orbit (blue). In fact, all of the orbits have been projected onto the ecliptic plane (flattened in this view). If we could view from the side, we would see that the spacecraft's orbit is above or below the Earth's depending on the orbit. The final close flyby in Dec 2009 set the spacecraft up for its approach (white solid) to Hartley 2.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD/GSFC/Tony Farnham