US Probe Stardust is Back!

I have always been really interested in astronomy and space exploration. In sixth grade, I could name all the planets in order. I also attempted to build a six-inch reflector telescope, grinding my own mirror. (Never finished.) So this news is pretty exciting.

After a seven-year mission covering 3 billion miles, US probe Startdust jettisoned it’s capsule and it came down relatively gently in a Utah desert. The probe rendezvoused with Comet Wild 2 at the edge of our Solar System in January 2004 and captured some dust from the comet’s tail. Scientists think the dust may date back to the formation of the Solar System, 4.1 billion years ago and could contain “chemical building blocks required for life.”

Source: BBC story (with video).
Wikipedia article

Let me take a moment to congratulate all the scientists and technicians who pulled this off.

This is an incredible scientific achievement. It also resembles the beginning of a multitude of stories and films about some kind of alien invasion. Maybe those building blocks are more like viral agents. Maybe the comet is seeded with intelligent life forms. Maybe the comet is alive and pissed that we took some it’s tail. Or maybe the particles of the live commet will attempt to return to the comet. Or maybe a new comet will begin growing from comet seeds.

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