Somewhere in the Western Desert

NASA’s Stardust probe is due to return on January 15 of next year, carrying samples of interstellar dust particles. Riding on a set of two parachutes, the probe is due to land somewhere in Utah a little after 3:00am.

Details of the probe’s sample return mission are available on NASA’s Stardust web site, but this got me thinking about what might happen on that day, somewhere in the Western Desert….

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January 15, 2006

Dear Diary,

A most peculiar thing happened last night. I was having trouble sleeping so around 2:30 I decided to go out for a quick run in hopes of tiring myself out. It was working and a little after 3:00 I was definitely starting to feel groggy so I headed back to the nest.

Wouldn’t you know it?! Turns out that mean old coyote was out for a jaunt too and, as always, he was hungry. Well I took off at top speed, but like I said, I was definitely feeling tired and I just couldn’t keep up the pace. I could almost feel the coyote’s breath on my back and that’s when it happened.

First there was a popping boom sound – sort of like my usual sonic booms – but like I said, I was pretty tired at that point and starting to slow down. And then, just when I thought I was a goner and the coyote was finally gonna get me for sure, he got conked on the head by this strange metal box that just fell out of nowhere.

I wonder where it came from?

Meep! Meep!

R.R.

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