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  • February 23, 2006

    Episode 24: Stardust

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    Scientists now have samples of comet dust. On Jan. 15, 2006, the Stardust capsule successfully returned to Earth. Stardust was an ambitious mission to use a satellite to robotically intercept a comet and collect its material for analysis. Stardust encountered Comet Wild 2 in January 2004. The satellite then flew back to Earth and dropped the capsule with the samples. The capsule deployed a parachute and safely streaked through the atmosphere to the Utah desert. Scientists are busy analyzing the comet dust from the samples collected. Since comets contain material from the outer reaches of the solar system, scientists hope that the analysis will help us better understand the formation of the solar system.