The first sample brought from a comet to our planet was an event that took place in 2006.
It was a milestone that allows us to better understand what comets are made of, although it is not the only one related to comets that are worth mentioning.
Specifically, it came from Wild 2. The Stardust ship, launched on February 7, 1999, arrived at the comet on January 2, 2004. It traversed its coma (a cloud of dust and gas around the comet’s center) and collected tiny samples of cometary dust with its airgel collector.
After returning to Earth, on January 15, 2006, the ongoing analysis of the materials is providing valuable data on the chemical composition of this frozen body.
Other cometary ships
We have visited many other kites. For example, there is a spacecraft that holds the record of having visited more than anyone. As of October 2016, it is specifically two ships that have visited two kites each.
The first is Giotto , from the European Space Agency, who arrived at 1P / Halley in 1986 and 26P / Grigg Skjellerup in 1992. The second, Deep Impact , visited the 9P / Tempel in 2005 and, during the EPOXI mission, arrived at the 103P / Hartley in 2010. This comet, by the way, is the smallest ever visited: it measures about 2.25 km long and its mass is about 300 million tons.
The ship Stardust, of which we have spoken before, besides visiting 81P / Wild in 2004, also visited the 9P / Tempel in 2011.
The first comet visited by a spacecraft was the Giacobini-Zinner by the International Cometary Explorer, on September 11, 1985. It traversed the plasma tail of the comet about 7,800 km from its nucleus.