Sunday, January 08, 2006

Stardust: Not Quite Home, But Almost

NASA's comet sample return mission, the Stardust spacecraft, made it's second to last maneuver, 18th course adjustment overall, and is now just a week from delivering its precious payload.

The craft will make one more adjustment before releasing its 100 pound sample-return capsule into earth's atmosphere, where it will hopefully come down safely in the Utah desert.

NASA has a nifty Stardust Mission Podcast with Dr. Peter Brownlee, the Stardust Principal Investigator.

If you live in the Northwestern US you might catch a glimpse of the return capsule as it streaks earthward. Check out this NASA chart of where to look and when.

After seven years and billions of miles of space travel, the Stardust mission stands poised to provide an opportunity for scientists to study pristine samples of comet material and interstellar dust left over from the formation of the Solar System 4.6 billion years ago...

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