A University of Washington astronomer will be in charge of a NASA space mission to gather samples of comet dust and return it to Earth for analysis.
As part of the seven-year Stardust mission, an unmanned spacecraft will be launched in February 1999, the principal investigator, UW astronomy professor Donald Brownlee, said Wednesday.
The spacecraft hopes to gather and return dust that it will encounter as it flies by a comet called Wild-2 in January 2004.
The mission, the first of its type, is expected to cost $199.6 million.
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