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Comet Wild 2 (officially named 81P/Wild) is a comet named after Swiss astronomer Paul Wild (pronounced Vilt), who discovered it in 1978. It was believed that for most of its 4.5 billion-year lifetime that this comet had a more distant and circular orbit. In 1974, it passed close to the planet Jupiter, whose strong gravitational pull altered the comet's orbit and brought it into the inner solar system. Its orbital period changed from 40 years to about 6 years, and its perihelion is about now one astronomical unit.

Its official designation is 81P/Wild.

It was studied on January 2, 2004 by a spacecraft named Stardust, which collected particle samples from the comet's coma (tail), to be returned to Earth in 2006.

The 72 close-up shots taken from Stardust show a surface riddled with flat-bottomed depressions with sheer walls and other features that range from very small up to 2 kilometers across. Stardust itself has a diameter of 5 kilometers. These features are believed to be caused by impact craters or gas vents. During Stardust's flyby, at least 10 gas vents were active.

Table of contents
1 Other comets to have been visited by spacecraft
2 Other photographs
3 External links

Other comets to have been visited by spacecraft

Other photographs

External links