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NASA ends Stardust mission
Posted: Fri, Mar 25, 2011, 6:19 AM ET (1019 GMT)
Stardust illustration at end of mission (NASA) NASA formally ended the Stardust mission on Thursday after more than a decade of operations, including a recent flyby of another comet. The Stardust spacecraft fired its thrusters one final time on Thursday to deplete its fuel reserves, then shut down its transmitter. The burn was designed to see how much propellant the spacecraft actually had on board, and compare that with models of fuel consumption. Stardust was launched in 1999 to collect dust samples as it flew past the comet Wild 2; those samples were returned to Earth in 2006. The main Stardust spacecraft remained in interplanetary space and flew past the comet Tempel 1 last month. Stardust also flew past an asteroid, Annefrank, during its 12-year mission.
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