Stardust’s haul delights scientists

Excited space scientists brought home more of a comet than they realised, they revealed yesterday.
Their Stardust probe captured more than a million tiny fragments of Comet Wild 2 with its cosmic fly-swat.
The device, covered with gel, was heavily peppered with impact holes and streaks when the probe’s sample-return cannister was opened at Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre at Houston, Texas.
Chief investigator Donald Brownlees said: “One is almost large enough to put your little finger into. Stardust is a phenomenal success. It exceeds all expectations.”
Stardust made a spectacular landing in the Utah Desert on Sunday after a seven-year mission deep into the solar system.
The dust collected will be passed to experts around the world, including UK universities and the Natural History Museum, for detailed study.
More than 65,000 people have signed up to offer their home computers to help search close-up images of the gel for other specks of dust from between the stars.

© Paul Sutherland. Unauthorised reproduction forbidden.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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