Mission Factoids


Long journey: The spacecraft will travel 2 billion miles to meet Comet Wild-2, and another 1 billion miles to get back home. It will make three loops around the sun.
Minuscule dust mites: Each comet particle is less than 1 micron (1/25,000 inch) across.
Small sample: Less than one-thousandth of an ounce of comet dust will be collected, which will be plenty for scientists to study.
High speed: During its seven years in space, the Stardust spacecraft races along at an average speed of 48,000 miles per hour.
Big return: Stardust is the first U.S. mission designed to return samples from another body since the Apollo missions to the moon.
Low cost, high payoff: The $128 million Stardust probe is one of NASA's new "Faster, Better, Cheaper" Discovery missions, which aim to launch small, less expensive spacecraft that have specific scientific goals, can be built in 36 months or less and cost less than $150 million dollars.