The Stardust spacecraft came back to Earth in January 2006. The main spacecraft let go of the sample return capsule. The capsule re-entered Earth's atmosphere. It then used parachutes to gently land in Utah. Scientists in a helicopter picked up the capsule.
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Images courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech; animation created by Windows to the Universe staff (Randy Russell).

Stardust returns - with comet dust!
News story originally written on January 11, 2006

A spacecraft is coming back to Earth after a long mission. The spacecraft is named Stardust. Stardust went on a journey to a comet. The trip lasted 7 years!

Stardust grabbed some pieces of dust from the comet it flew by. It is bringing that dust back to Earth. Scientists will study the dust to learn more about comets. Stardust flew by a comet named Wild 2. It took some really great pictures of the comet.

Stardust put the dust it grabbed into a capsule. The capsule will land on Earth on January 15, 2006. It will land in the desert in Utah. Scientists will get the dust from the capsule so they can study it. Nobody has ever been to a comet. This is the first time stuff from a comet has been brought back to Earth. Scientists are excited to get their first chance to look at comet "stuff" up close. They think they will learn a lot about comets from the dust!

Last modified January 11, 2006 by Randy Russell.

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