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Links to broadcast quality audio files and transcripts -- Dr. Scott Sandford, astrophysicist at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., was interviewed about the Stardust comet sample-return mission – humanity’s first opportunity to study the original material from which our solar system was built. Launched in 1999, the mission is flying to a rendezvous with the Wild-2 (pronounced VILD-TWO) comet in 2004 and is scheduled to return samples of cometary dust to Earth in 2006. The stardust mission is slated to be the first to return a sample from outside the Earth’s moon system. More information about the mission is on the Internet at:

This interview was posted on the web April 28, 2003. Sandford provided these comments prior to a talk he gave about the mission at Foothill College, Los Altos Hills, Calif. on April 23.

Question15. What is the exact date of the comet encounter?

The audio recording is 44 seconds

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Full Transcript (below)

15. What is the exact date of the comet encounter?(44 seconds)

Dr. Scott Sandford: "Well, the encounter with comet nucleus happens on January 2nd of 2004, and then after we collect the sample, we got to – we’re on our outbound leg of an orbit, so we have to go all the way out in the asteroid belt again, turn around, and come back to the Earth. And the return capsule comes back to the Earth in January of 2006. So, after we have the encounter, and we get the great pictures of the nucleus, and measure the flux environment around there and so on – survive the encounter and verify, that yes, we will have collected a lot of dust, hopefully. All these are true. Then we have to be very patient for two years and wait for this thing to lollygag around out there, and come back to Earth. And then we get the sample, and get to do the actual study of it – the composition of what we’ve collected."

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