"This exceeded all of our grandest expectations," Donald Brownlee, a University of Washington-based researcher and the principal Stardust investigator, told a news conference.
The team was still giddy from the smooth landing of the Stardust capsule in the moon-lit Utah desert, but that turned out to be just the beginning.
When the sample canister inside the capsule was opened, scientists could see with naked eyes small black rocks and other particles that had been trapped in the probe's gel-filled collection device.
"We were totally overwhelmed by the ability to actually see this so quickly and so straight-forwardly," Brownlee said.
Them's comet parts they're looking at. Sublime in their very presence on Earth, trapped in aerogel for naked human eyes to see.
The universe is in our front yard.