Stardust Seeks Comet's Tail

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A speeding NASA spacecraft has a comet by the tail Friday. And engineers at Denver's Lockheed Martin plant have a keen interest--they built "Stardust."

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration says the Stardust spacecraft has entered the bright halo of dust and gas surrounding a shimmering comet. NASA hopes it will snag and return to Earth less than a thimbleful of primitive leftovers from the formation of our solar system.

NASA says Stardust could pass within 186 miles of the comet Wild
Two Friday while flying through the gossamer cloud that envelops the dirty ball of ice and rock.

Stardust is designed to gather hundreds if not thousands of dust particles streaming from the comet during the flyby 242 million miles from Earth and then return.

NASA also plans for the unmanned spacecraft to snap 72 black-and-white close-ups of the comet's nucleus.