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Hot Topic Solar System Meteorites, Comets and Asteroids
Toutatis: Almost Too Close for Comfort
Topic: Meteorites, Comets and Asteroids
The asteroid Toutatis last flew close by Earth in 1992 and 1996, but it has not come as close to us as it will this year since 1353. On Wednesday morning, scientists and skywatchers alike will be able to witness its passage within only four Earth-moon distances.

Meteorites Donated Life's Phosphorus
Topic: Meteorites, Comets and Asteroids
Phosphorus is much rarer in nature than are hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen, but just as critical to life. Where the phosphorus came from has been a mystery, but one recent hypothesis maintains that meteorites might be a source of Earth's early phosphorus.

Moon Written in Stone
Topic: Meteorites, Comets and Asteroids
In stark relief against the arid Oman desert, meteor hunters have found a rock launched from the moon before life even had time to take hold on Earth. More remarkable was the scientists' ability to unravel its complex timeline to give a complete history written in stone.

Rockhard Stardust
Topic: Meteorites, Comets and Asteroids
Scientists thought most comets were "fluffy" snowballs -- piles of icy rubble that were loosely bound together. But Wild-2 has a solid, cohesive surface carved into lofty pinnacles, deep canyons and broad mesas.

Piecing Together a Permian Impact
Topic: Meteorites, Comets and Asteroids
The largest extinction event in the history of life has been tied to an Australian crater called the Bedout crater now dated to be 250.7 million years old. There are several lines of evidence that indicate the Bedout crater was caused by a meteor impact rather than volcanic activity.

Hours to Impact
Topic: Meteorites, Comets and Asteroids
Last January, astronomers thought an asteroid might hit the Earth. The asteroid AL00667 seemed to be on a direct course for the Northern Hemisphere, due to strike in two days or less.

Museum of the Galaxies
Topic: Meteorites, Comets and Asteroids
Comets that formed beyond Pluto and orbit the sun give off a spectacular show, but none quite so close or bright as the one witnessed by the Stardust mission team. Their comet dust sampler revealed a strange, pockmarked surface rich in depressions and steep walls.

Stardust's Success
Topic: Meteorites, Comets and Asteroids
The Stardust spacecraft successfully flew by the comet Wild 2 on Friday, gathering dust and taking pictures. The first image surprised scientists - the comet's nucleus is a round snowball pocketed with deep caverns, with at least five jets spewing material out into space.

Catching Comet Dust
Topic: Meteorites, Comets and Asteroids
The Stardust spacecraft prepares to fly into the stormy coma of the comet Wild 2 on Friday, ending a five-year wait. The spacecraft will "kiss the comet's dust," collecting enough of the tiny grains to bring back to Earth for analysis.

Leonid Meteors, 2003
Topic: Meteorites, Comets and Asteroids
This year's encounter between the Earth's orbit and the dust trail of a comet will promise fewer mid-November meteors to view.
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