Sunday, January 15, 2006

NASA probe returns comet dust to earth

NASA is celebrating the safe return of the Stardust spacecraft whose mission was to collect cometary dust and return it to earth.

::::::::The touchdown capped a seven-year journey by NASA's Stardust spacecraft, which zipped past a comet in 2004 to capture minute dust particles and store them in the capsule.

"It's an absolutely fantastic end to the mission," said Carlton Allen, a scientist with NASA's Johnson Space Center.

A helicopter recovery team located the capsule Sunday and was transferring it to a clean room at the nearby Michael Army Air Field. The capsule will be flown Tuesday to the Johnson Space Center in Houston where scientists will unlock the canister containing the cosmic particles.

I just hope some of those scientists are old enough and sci-fi fans enough to remember The Andromeda Strain. Careful what you let lose down here, boys.