The spacecraft is now at closest approach to the nucleus, gathering samples of cometary material with Aerogel contained in the extended paddle shaped sample collector at the rear of the craft. The Whipple Shields on the leading edge absorb and deflect potentially dangerous ice and rock particles, protecting the spacecraft throughout its historic journey.

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The STARDUST™ animations and panoramic paintings were produced by Spherical Magic Corporation for NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.