STARDUST To Catch A Falling Star And Put It In Its Pocket
News story originally written on February 15, 1999
will catch comet
particles and return
them to Earth
. The spacecraft, which was launched
February 7, 1999, is working fine. It will pass by Comet
Comets were formed at the same times as our Solar System. They
haven't changed much since the time of formation. Scientists hope to
learn more about how our Solar System formed by studying pieces of the
comet. Comet Wild-2 was recently knocked out of the Oort Cloud. It is relatively fresh
when compared to historical ones such as Halley's Comet.
STARDUST will use a special material called aerogel to collect the comet
particles. The aerogel is 1000 times less dense than glass. The
particles are only about the size of a grain of salt but they are
traveling faster than 9 times the speed of a bullet. They will slow down
as they enter the aerogel. The particles caught in the aerogel will be dropped off in a reentry capsule that will parachute to Earth in 2006.
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