Thursday, January 12, 2006

This Is Just Cool

I very rarely read a news story and say to myself, "damn, self, that's pretty cool." But here's one, from today's USA Today. It's about NASA's Stardust spacecraft which is ready to deposit it's "cosmic booty" on Earth. Last year, Stardust, which launched in 1999, flew within 149 miles of a comet, collecting samples of dust and debris in the comet's tail. Here's the plan:

On Sunday, the spacecraft will eject the capsule and fire its rockets to swing past Earth. The capsule will hit the atmosphere at 28,860 mph, the fastest re-entry ever of any man-made object. The target for the landing is the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.

If all goes well, the capsule's parachute will deliver 1 milligram of comet dust, about one-thousandth of the weight of a paper clip. It represents only about 1 million particles of comet stuff, but to scientists, it's 'nearly an embarrassment of riches,' NASA says in press materials on the mission.

Ain't that cool?

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