A match made in the heavens...
(PhysOrg.com) -- There was the Stardust spacecraft, launched in 1999, and her cometary fiancée, Wild 2. Betrothed from afar, the two headed blissfully toward a 2004 rendezvous.
Meanwhile, the comet Tempel 1, making her own solitary way around the sun in 2005, was heading toward a more explosive relationship with the Deep Impact spacecraft.
But alas, heavenly though the matches were -- and fruitful, with each yielding valuable information about the evolution of the solar system -- neither lasted. In 2006, Stardust tossed her dusty tokens of Wild 2 down to Earth for analysis and vowed to start anew. She was a little older now; but with all her parts in good working order and adequate fuel, she was ready for a second mission. And Tempel 1, scarred by her violent encounter with Deep Impact, was looking for a kinder, gentler match.
On Valentine's Day, the two will meet...
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