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Dr. Donald Brownlee, Stardust Principal Investigator Stardust: A Mission With Many Scientific Surprises
The primary goal of the Stardust mission was to collect samples of a comet and return them to Earth for laboratory analysis. Comets are ancient bodies of frozen ice and dust that formed beyond the orbit of the most distant planet. They were expected to contain materials that the solar system formed from, preserved in ice for billions of years. When the international team of 200 scientists began examination of the returned particles, we found that the particles were indeed ancient building blocks of the solar system but the nature and origin of the particles was quite unexpected.
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Artist conception of Stardust visiting a comet Stardust Spacecraft to Continue Flying
The Stardust-NExT will utilize the existing Stardust spacecraft to flyby Comet Tempel 1 in 2011, and observe changes in the comet since Deep Impact visited it in 2005.
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Composite image of Comet Wild-2 taken by the Stardust spacecraft showing jets from the comet First Discovery of Life's Building Block in Comet
NASA scientists have discovered glycine, a fundamental building block of life, in samples of comet Wild 2 returned by NASA's Stardust spacecraft.
Stardust sample return capsule being prepared for transfer to the Smithsonian Stardust Capsule To Go On Display At Smithsonian
Stardust sample return capsule will join the collection of flight icons in the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington. The capsule will go on public display in the museum's Milestones of Flight Gallery on Oct. 1, the 50th anniversary of NASA.
A slice of aerogel containing cometary material Stardust Science Update
The 2007 round of sample processing and allocations of Cosmic Dust has been completed. The Cosmic Dust Lab (CDL) at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, will be closed down and cleaned in order to resume work associated with processing of the Interstellar Tray from Stardust.

Dr. Donald Brownlee, Stardust Principal Investigator

Stardust's Big Surprise
The comet particles returned by the Stardust mission have been a real bonanza. They do contain some stardust grains from other stars but the majority of solids are solar system materials that appear to have formed over a very broad range of solar distances and perhaps over an extended time range.

A researcher examining a Stardust aerogel tile under a stereo microscope. NASA Study Finds New Kind of Organics in Stardust Mission
A team of scientists found a new class of organics in comet dust captured from comet Wild 2 in 2004 by NASA's Stardust spacecraft.

Stardust capsule in Utah Stardust Findings Suggest Comets More Complex Than Thought
Comets may be more than just simple conglomerations of ice, dust and gases. Scientists have found a wide range of compositions and structures for the comet Wild 2 particles that were captured and returned to Earth by NASA's Stardust spacecraft.

Crayons On Aerogel Over A Flame Aerogel: Catching Comet Dust
The primary objective of the Stardust mission is to capture both cometary samples and interstellar dust. Main challenges to accomplishing this successfully involve slowing down the particles from their high velocity with minimal heating or other effects that would cause their physical alteration.

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