JSC Stardust Curation Team
- Zolensky, Michael E.
- Jun. 24, 2000.
- Physical Description:
- 1 electronic document
- Restrictions on Access:
- Unclassified, Unlimited, Publicly available.
Free-to-read Unrestricted online access
- STARDUST, a NASA Discovery-class mission, is the first to return samples from a comet. Grains from comet Wild 2's coma-the gas and dust envelope that surrounds the nucleus-will be collected as well as interstellar dust. The mission which launched on February 7, 1999 will encounter the comet on January 10, 2004. As the spacecraft passes through the coma, a tray of silica aerogel will be exposed, and coma grains will impact there and become captured. Following the collection, the aerogel tray is closed for return to Earth in 2006. A dust impact mass spectrometer on board the STARDUST spacecraft will be used to gather spectra. of dust during the entire mission, including the coma passage. This instrument will be the best chance to obtain data on volatile grains, which will not be well-collected in the aerogel. The dust impact mass spectrometer will also be used to study the composition of interstellar grains. In the past 5 years, analysis of data from dust detectors aboard the Ulysses and Galileo spacecraft have revealed that there is a stream of interstellar dust flowing through our solar system. These grains will be captured during the cruise phase of the STARDUST mission, as the spacecraft travels toward the comet. The sample return capsule will parachute to Earth in February 2006, and will land in western Utah. Once on y the ground, the sample return capsule will be placed into a dry nitrogen environment and flown to the curation lab at JSC.
- Other Subject(s):
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20000088621.
- No Copyright.
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