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Stardust completes asteroid flyby
Posted: Sun, Nov 3, 2002, 10:05 PM ET (0305 GMT)
Stardust spacecraft illustration (NASA/JPL) NASA's Stardust spacecraft flew by an asteroid late Friday night en route to its main destination. Stardust flew within 3,300 kilometers of the asteroid 5535 Annefrank at 11:50 pm EST Friday (0450 GMT Saturday). According to a JPL status report, the flyby went by without any problems, with the spacecraft tracking the asteroid for 30 minutes during closest approach at a relative speed of seven kilometers a second. Images taken during the Annefrank flyby are being transmitted back to Earth for analysis during the coming week; none have been released yet. NASA planned to use the flyby of Annefrank, a main-belt asteroid about four kilometers across, as a dress rehearsal for the spacecraft's primary mission, a flyby of the comet Wild 2 in January 2004. If all goes well, Stardust will collect samples of dust as it flies by Wild 2 and return them to Earth in 2006.
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