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Stardust returns to Earth
Posted: Sun, Jan 15, 2006, 6:24 PM ET (2324 GMT)
Stardust capsule parachutes to Earth (NASA/JPL illus.) The capsule from NASA's Stardust spacecraft, carrying dust collected from a distant comet, parachuted to a safe landing in the Utah desert early Sunday. The capsule touched down in the US Air Force Utah Test and Training Range at about 5:10 am EST (1010 GMT) and was spotted by a recovery team about 45 minutes later. Project officials were concerned during the descent because they could not get confirmation that the capsule's drogue chute opened as planned, but the main parachute did deploy and brought the capsule down to a safe landing. The 45-kilogram capsule is carrying dust samples collected by Stardust when it flew past the comet Wild-2 in January 2004. The main Stardust spacecraft remains in orbit around the Sun and may be used for observation of other comets or asteroids.
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