NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Stardust spacecraft and comet. Artist's impression of the spacecraft Stardust approaching comet Wild 2 in early 2004. Powered by its two solar panels (seen here), this spacecraft should come within 100 kilometres of the comet's nucleus. Flying through the gas and dust envelope of the comet's coma, Stardust will sample these materials. It will also be able to take detailed photographs of surface features of Wild 2. Before reaching the comet, the spacecraft will make two loops around the sun and collect interstellar dust particles. At just 350kg, Stardust has two telecommunications antennae, optical camera & spectrometer. Expected mission dates: launch 6-02-1999, return 15-01-2006.
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