“NASA’s Stardust sample return mission returned safely to Earth when the capsule carrying cometary and interstellar particles successfully touched down at 2:10 a.m. Pacific time (3:10 a.m. Mountain time) in the desert salt flats of the U.S. Air Force Utah Test and Training Range.
“‘Ten years of planning and seven years of flight operations were realized early this morning when we successfully picked up our return capsule off of the desert floor in Utah,’ said Tom Duxbury, Stardust project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. ‘The Stardust project has delivered to the international science community material that has been unaltered since the formation of our solar system.’
“Stardust released its sample return capsule at 9:57 p.m. Pacific time (10:57 p.m. Mountain time) last night. The capsule entered the atmosphere four hours later at 1:57 a.m. Pacific time (2:57 a.m. Mountain time). The drogue and main parachutes deployed at 2:00 and 2:05 a.m. Pacific time, respectively (3:00 and 3:05 a.m. Mountain time).”