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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Image of Comet Wild 2 taken by NASA's Stardust spacecraft

Image of Comet Wild 2 taken by NASA's Stardust spacecraft
Click on the image to enlarge

This composite image shows comet Wild 2 as imaged by NASA's Stardust spacecraft. Comet Wild 2 was visited by the spacecraft on Jan. 2, 2004. Asteroid Annefrank was used as a dress rehearsal of procedures the spacecraft would use for its upcoming encounter with its primary science target, comet Wild 2. Stardust passed within about 3,300 kilometers (2,050 miles) of the asteroid. During the comet Wild 2 encounter, Stardust flew within about 230 kilometers (143 miles) of the comet, catching samples of comet particles and scoring detailed pictures of Wild 2's pockmarked surface. The collected particles were stowed in a sample return capsule onboard Stardust. The samples were returned to Earth for in-depth analysis on January 15, 2006, when the spacecraft's sample return capsule made a soft landing at the U.S. Air Force Utah Test and Training Range.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Maryland/Cornell

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