Journal article

Research article - Comet 81P/Wild 2 under a microscope

Brownlee, Don; Tsou, Peter; Aleon, Jerome; Alexander, Conel M. O'D.; Araki, Tohru; Bajt, Sasa; Baratta, Giuseppe A.; Bastien, Ron; Bland, Phil; Bleuet, Pierre

The Stardust spacecraft collected thousands of particles from comet 81P/Wild 2 and returned them to Earth for laboratory study. The preliminary examination of these samples shows that the nonvolatile portion of the comet is an unequilibrated assortment of materials that have both presolar and solar system origin. The comet contains an abundance of silicate grains that are much larger than predictions of interstellar grain models, and many of these are high-temperature minerals that appear to have formed in the inner regions of the solar nebula. Their presence in a comet proves that the formation of the solar system included mixing on the grandest scales.


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