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William Jeffs
Johnson Space Center, Houston

RELEASE : J05-040
Tour of Stardust Lab, Scientist Interviews Set for Oct. 7
Particles from deep space due to arrive at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC), Houston, in January may help scientists better understand the nature of comets and their role in the early history of the solar system.

NASA's Stardust spacecraft, which collected particles from comet Wild 2 in January 2004, will soon complete its two-year, 708-million-mile trek back to Earth. The capsule will be transported to JSC and stored in the Stardust Laboratory where scientists will make the first analyses of freshly collected cometary and interstellar particles.

Media representatives are invited to view the lab and interview members of the Stardust science team at 2 p.m. CDT on Friday, Oct. 7. Those wishing to attend should contact the JSC Newsroom at (281) 483-5111 by 5 p.m. on Oct. 6.

The Stardust spacecraft was launched in February 1999. It encountered its target, comet Wild 2, on Jan. 2, 2004. In addition to capturing samples of cometary material for return to Earth, Stardust collected grains from a newly discovered stream of particles from interstellar space. The spacecraft will return a capsule containing the samples at the Air Force's Utah Test and Training Range on Jan.15, 2006.

Stardust is the first sample return mission launched in 30 years and the first to collect material from deep space.

Stardust, a part of NASA's Discovery Program of low-cost, highly focused science missions, was built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver, Colo., and is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Pasadena, Calif., for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.

For more information on the Stardust mission, visit:

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