Stardust (U.S.)

Updated May 8, 2019 | Infoplease Staff

Destination: Comet Wild 2. Launched: Feb. 7, 1999. Returned: Jan. 15, 2006. Mission: To fly through the coma of Comet Wild 2, capture particles spewing out of the comet, take pictures of the comet, and return comet dust samples to Earth. Stardust will be the first mission to return with comet samples. Additionally, the Stardust spacecraft will bring back samples of interstellar dust, which is believed to include remnants from the formation of the solar system. On April 18, 2002, Stardust reached the farthest distance from the Sun ever traveled by a solar-powered spacecraft, 2.72 AU (253 million miles or 407 million kilometers). In Jan. 2004, Stardust reached the comet, sent back the best images of a comet ever taken, and collected particles. It successfully landed in Utah on Jan. 15, 2006.

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