Thousands of samples from the Genesis space capsule arrived at the Johnson Space Center this week.
Now, the project's curator must put together a giant jigsaw puzzle that could hold clues to the origins of the solar system.
Wafers -- securing samples of atoms and ions from solar wind -- on five collector panels broke into thousands of pieces when the capsule slammed into Earth last month. There are almost three-thousand tracking numbers for containers holding pieces of the wafers. Some of the containers hold as many as 96 pieces of the wafers, which are composed of silicone, gold on sapphire and geranium.
The billions of charged atoms, a total haul no bigger than a few grains of salt, collected since the capsule was launched into space in 2001 could explain how the sun formed more than four (B) billion years ago and what keeps it fueled.