Scientists at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, realize that the Stardust mission was a success as they remove the aerogel trap filled with comet dust from the space probe. The Stardust probe returned to Earth on Sunday after completing a seven year, 2.9 billion mile trip to comet Wild 2 where it captured samples from the comet's tail.
Scientists uncovered pieces of comet dust which was captured in aerogel, a sponge-like solid made of 99 percent empty space. NASA reported that the number of samples exceeded expectations.
Here's another closeup look at a cometary fragment that was caught by aerogel.
NASA has installed a live Webcam at the Stardust Cleanroom that shows the scientists working on the comet samples returned by the Stardust space probe. It can be accessed from NASA's Stardust page.
NASA's Stardust capsule successfully landed on Sunday at the U.S. Air Force Utah Test and Training Range. The 100-pound capsule was launched in 1999. Click here for more photos of the recovery and a view of its reentry.