The comet-rendezvous mission Stardust — or more exactly, its sample-return capsule — is now safe in Houston, Texas, after it was flown on Tuesday from its landing site at the US Air Force Utah Test and Training Range. At first glance it appears the mission was a triumphant success. According to Stardust lead scientist Donald Brownlee (University of Washington), the spacecraft’s aerogel collectors may have captured more than one million microscopic specks of interplanetary, interstellar, and cometary dust.
NASA has set up a live Web cam so that the public can watch the scientists work on the spacecraft. Visit http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/webcam.html for the latest images.