A Comet Comes to the Advanced Light Source

At less than half the cost of a single round trip in the space shuttle, NASA’s $200-million, seven-year-long Stardust mission to comet Wild 2 was an economical excursion into space. Yet Stardust scored a remarkable number of firsts:

  • Stardust returned the first solid samples from space since the 1970s moon missions;
  • These were the first samples ever recovered from beyond the moon;
  • They were the first samples of a body known to date back to the primitive solar system;
  • They also included the first samples of interstellar dust returned directly to Earth.