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Stardust completes comet flyby
Posted: Fri, Jan 2, 2004, 8:23 PM ET (0123 GMT)
Stardust image of Wild-2 nucleus (NASA/JPL) NASA's Stardust spacecraft successfully flew past the nucleus of comet Wild-2 on Friday, collecting images, other data, and samples of comet dust to return to Earth. Stardust made its close approach to Wild-2 at approximately 2:45 pm EST (1945 GMT), passing 240 kilometers from the comet's nucleus. An image of the nucleus, released at a press conference a few hours after the flyby, reveals a fairly round body several kilometers across whose surface is pockmarked with craters and erosional features. The spacecraft also collected data on number of dust particles in the comet's coma and their composition; that data is being transmitted back to Earth for analysis. The spacecraft also collected some comet dust particles as well, which will be returned to Earth along with samples of the interplanetary medium collected earlier in the mission, in January 2006.
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