The Stardust spacecraft successfully navigates through the particle- and gas-laden coma surrounding Comet Wild 2, catching samples of comet particles and scoring detailed pictures of Wild 2's pockmarked surface.
President George W. Bush announces the new Vision for Space Exploration in a speech at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. Among its goals and objectives, the Vision aims for a human return to the Moon by 2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations.
The European Space Agency launches Rosetta, a mission to Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
The 35th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference is held at the South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center in League City, Texas, with 1317 in attendance.
The University of Arizona Press, in collaboration with LPI, publishes Comets II, a Space Science Series volume.
MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) launches to conduct an in-depth study of the planet Mercury. Mercury is the most extreme of the terrestrial (rocky) planets: the smallest, the densest (after correcting for self-compression), the one with the oldest surface, the one with the largest daily variations in surface temperature, and the least explored. Understanding this “end member” among the terrestrial planets is crucial to developing a better understanding of how the planets in our solar system formed and evolved.
LPI publishes the 100th issue of the Lunar and Planetary Information Bulletin. The issue includes a retrospective of articles published over the 30-year history of the quarterly publication.