We are STARDUST...

... the space mission that will fly close to a comet and, for the first time ever, bring cometary material back to Earth for analysis by scientists worldwide. STARDUST has been selected by NASA as a mission for the Discovery Program of highly focused deep space missions with exceptional science return at lowest possible cost.

Comets have been observed and regarded with awe throughout history. The latest, most exciting discovery since comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 plunged into Jupiter is the new, extremely active comet Hale-Bopp.

Comets are Important because they ...

* are the oldest, most primitive bodies in the solar system, preserving the earliest record of material from the nebula which formed the sun and the planets,

* bring volatile light elements to the planets, playing a role in forming oceans and atmospheres,

* are the most organic-rich bodies in the solar system, providing ready-formed molecules possibly involved in the Origin of Life on Earth,

* impact the Earth and other Planets at hyper-velocities, causing major changes in climate and dramatically affecting the ecological balance, possibly including the extinction of the Dinosaurs,

* are the building blocks of planetary systems around other stars.

As a bonus, the STARDUST mission will also collect grains from the newly discovered Interstellar Dust stream that is impinging into our solar system.

Webmaster Tom Meyer, meyertr@colorado.edu.
Last update Wednesday, 26-Nov-2003 12:46:49 PST.