NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Stardust comet sample recovery, computer artwork. Helicopter finding the Stardust sample return capsule (SRC) in 2006. The Stardust spacecraft collected samples of comet dust from Comet Wild-2 on 2 January 2004. Stardust will return to Earth in January 2006, when it will release the SRC that contains the comet dust. The SRC will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere protected by a heat shield, and then a parachute will deploy. The SRC will land in Utah, USA, on a winter's night. Cometary dust is studied because it is a sample of material from the formation of the solar system. Stardust was launched in February 1999.
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