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A Comet Comes to the Lab

On December 15, 2006, Science published the results from the preliminary investigation of samples from Comet Wild 2, returned to Earth in January by the Stardust spacecraft as it swept past its home planet. It's the first time since the Apollo missions of the 1970s that samples have been returned from another planetary body -- and already, the samples from Wild 2 are shedding new light on the conditions of the solar nebula when the solar system first got under way.

In this video presentation, Stardust investigator Larry Nittler, along with Lucy McFadden, an investigator on NASA's previous Deep Impact comet probe, discuss how Stardust captured and returned dust from a comet, and some of what that dust is telling us.

Complete list of Stardust papers from this issue

Credits: Stardust images, re-entry video, and simulation: NASA/JPL/UW; Deep Impact images and simulation: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Maryland.