Space probe after the Wild 2 Comet

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Post 3+ Months Ago

Spacecraft grabs comet by the tail
'Stardust' to collect particles that could unlock secrets of the universe'

Image

(CNN) -- After traveling four years and 2.3 billion miles, a speeding NASA space probe pounced on the shimmering tail of a comet Friday and prepared to trap tiny space dust to bring back to Earth.

At 2:44 p.m. EST today, the Stardust spacecraft should reach its closest point with the massive chunk of ice and rock known as the Wild 2 Comet, getting within 200 miles at a relative speed of 13,645 mph, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said.

At that point, the craft will snap pictures of the dark mass in the comet's nucleus and stretch out its robotic arm to trap comet dust in a tennis-racket-shaped catcher filled with a material called aerogel.

The hope is that the dust, which resembles solid smoke and has been lingering in the cold of space for billions of years, could provide clues to how the universe formed -- including the stars, planets and even our solar system.

"In recent decades, spacecraft have passed fairly close to comets and provided us with excellent data," said Dr. Don Brownlee of the University of Washington, principal investigator for the Stardust mission. "Stardust, however, marks the first time that we have ever collected samples from a comet and brought them back to Earth for study."

Surviving the close encounter 242 million miles from Earth with the Wild 2 -- pronounced Vild 2 -- won't be easy. Rocks and other debris are expected to pelt the refrigerator-sized craft six times faster than the speed of bullets. The Stardust will be guarded as it makes its vital recovery by two bumpers in the front, protecting its solar panels and another shield on the probe's body.


See the entire article here:

http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/space/01/0 ... index.html
  • whatlikesit12345
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I just got finished reading that article over at cnn and i thoug many its going to be another 4 years till we get the stuff
  • PluTunium
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I think it's amazing how they can do this stuff. And how do they even keep track of things that far away? 2.3 billion miles away! now would that be fun if your handy dandy little tikes walkie talkie went that far!
  • whatlikesit12345
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Post 3+ Months Ago

that would be cool if they went that far. but why would u need walkie talkies to go that far
  • b_heyer
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Just in case you went on a vacation off earth? :-P
  • digitalMedia
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I wonder...if I got some aluminium foil and used my WAP...


hrmmmmmm
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Post 3+ Months Ago

that is pretty amazing. I love space and all that we just don't
know. So, so amazing to me.
  • wookey
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Post 3+ Months Ago

i do find space exploration fasinating, but i cant help feeling that all the resources poured into it could sometimes be used better closer to home :?

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