SUMMARY: In less than 2 days, NASA's Stardust spacecraft will fly past Comet Wild 2 - on January 2 at 0740 UTC (2:40 am EST). The spacecraft has already entered the comet's halo; the cloud of dust and gas surrounding its nucleus. This is a dangerous part of the journey because the spacecraft could collide with particles from the comet which are moving at 6.1 kilometres per second. In order to minimize any damage, Stardust has several shields made of composite material which dissipate the energy from colliding particles. The spacecraft will collect particles from the comet and then return them to Earth in 2006.

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