Clues from a Comet

The first mission to collect space matter from beyond the moon offers insights into the solar system's creation

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In addition to offering insights about the Milky Way, Wild 2 also offers clues to the origin of life on Earth, A'Hearn says. About 3.8 billion years ago, a bombardment of meteorites, comets and asteroids carried water and other basic matter to our planet and throughout the solar system, he explains.

Understanding the comet's make-up helps scientists piece together "what role comets played in bringing organic material to Earth, out of which life could form," A'Hearn says.

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