Bringing the Text to Life
That’s what some scientists call comets, those heavenly bodies that glide through the night sky like a Nike swoosh, with trailing, iridescent tails. They’re undercooked leftovers from the vast cloud of gas and dust that formed our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago.
If it were possible to capture a comet sample, even just a few rocks, even just a thimbleful of dust, we could answer some fundamental questions, they say, about the birth of the planets and the origin of life on Earth.
Now, they’ve done it.
About seven months ago, a streaking spacecraft entered the bright halo of dust and gas surrounding Comet Wild 2 (pronounced Vilt 2), surviving a barrage of deadly debris that traveled at six times the speed of an assault rifle bullet. This armored NASA spacecraft was on a mission to collect a thimbleful of stardust, and then return this sample to earth for scientific study.
The back story here is that the spacecraft survived its mission at all. An...