NASA / JPL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / JPL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Stardust aerogel with comet dust impacts. Light micrograph of a section of aerogel from the Stardust spacecraft showing the tracks of particles of captured comet dust (running right to left). The aerogel collector on the Stardust spacecraft was extended into the dusty coma of the comet Wild-2 during its encounter in January 2004. The aerogel then returned to Earth in a capsule, landing on 15th January 2006. The spacecraft remained in space. Aerogel is a solid with extremely low density, designed to slow and stop the dust particles without damaging them. Comets are relics from the formation of the solar system, and study of their composition could provide information on its history. Magnification: x59 when printed 10cm wide.
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