[quote=Marilena]The universe is way older than 6,000 years! Here is what
Marilena, the HubbleSite is excellent ! Thanks for bringing it to our attention.
I located this fasinating article on National Geographic’s website:
**Stardust’s Space Cargo Thrills Scientists
for National Geographic News
January 19, 2006
Scientists say they’re thrilled and awed by their first glimpse at the comet particles and samples of interstellar dust returned by the Stardust spacecraft.
Stardust’s canister of samples dropped safely to Utah’s desert floor Sunday.
“Now we can bring to mankind a very unique glimpse of the beginning of our solar system,” said Peter Tsou, the mission’s deputy principal investigator, at a mission briefing today at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
“In fact I will say tiny samples from a distant comet open giant windows of our past,” Tsou added.**
The on-line peer reviewed scientific journal *Nature * published an article on 16 January 2006 that was virtually thrilling news for me. NASA’s Mark Peplow wrote the article ‘Comet dust delivered to Earth Cosmic grains should tell tales of the early Solar System’.
**Stardust Capsule Return as seen from NASA’s DC-8 Airborne Laboratory
The first ever sample of a comet parachuted safely down to the Utah desert early on Sunday 15 January. The Stardust mission’s capsule left a bright streak of light in the night sky as it tore through the atmosphere at more than 46,000 kilometres per hour, before popping a series of parachutes and driving into the desert sand at 2:10 local time.
The milligram or so of dust inside is the first geological sample returned from space since the Apollo flights of the early 1970s, says Phil Bland, a planetary scientist from Imperial College London, UK, who will be one of the first to get his hands on the grains. “It’s so exciting,” he says. “I was three years old when the last Apollo samples came back, and there have been no rocks brought back from space since then.”
Stardust’s 4.6-billion-kilometre round trip to the comet Wild 2 took a total of seven years. Its close encounter in January 2004 gave us our best picture of a comet yet, with a surface pockmarked by craters and a surprisingly rigid core.
Skimming just 240 kilometres from the comet’s surface, the craft detected simple organic molecules in the particles drifting from Wild 2. To get a closer look, it swept a soft, lightweight material called aerogel through the halo of dust and gas surrounding the comet’s tail, and bagged a sample.
The few thousand specks of dust collected are thought to date back 4.6 billion years, to a time when the Solar System was first forming. Scientists hope that the samples will give them clues about the chemical make-up of the primordial rubble that spawned the planets.
Identifying minerals in the grains should reveal which elements were available as building blocks for our Solar System, and what sorts of stars created them. And if researchers find minerals that have been altered by water in the past, it might help to determine whether comets were instrumental in delivering much of the water in Earth’s oceans, says Bland.**