MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Mary Beth Murrill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 1, 1998
"MR. NASA'S WILD RIDE TO A COMET" IS LECTURE TOPIC
Stardust -- an innovative space mission that will travel to
a comet, grab a sample and return it to Earth for scientific
analysis -- is the subject of this month's von Karman Lecture at
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Thursday, October 15 at 7
p.m., and repeated Friday, October 16 at Pasadena City College's
Forum, also at 7 p.m. Admission is free, but seating is limited
and on a first-come, first-served basis.
"Stardust: Mr. NASA's Wild Ride to a Comet" will be
presented by Project Manager Dr. Kenneth Atkins of JPL. The
spacecraft, now in the final stages of completion, is scheduled
for launch from Cape Canaveral, FL on February 6, 1999.
Atkins will provide a detailed description of the mission,
its scientific objectives, and the design and development of the
spacecraft. He will describe how the Stardust team plans to fly
their spacecraft through the coma, or head of a comet, collect a
sample, and return it to Earth for analysis. He will also
detail the innovative opportunities the project offers to the
public, educators and students to participate in the mission and
share in the excitement of its engineering challenges and
Scientists have long sought a direct sample of a comet
particle because these icy bodies are thought to be nearly
pristine examples of the original material from which our Sun and
planets were born 4.6 billion years ago. Stardust will travel
into the cloud of ice and dust that surround the nucleus of Comet
Wild-2 (pronounced "Vilt-2"), coming to within 150 kilometers
(100 miles) of the nucleus itself. There, it will gather comet
dust particles and deliver them back to Earth. En route to the
comet, Stardust will attempt to capture interstellar particles
that are believed to be blowing through our solar system. The
mission ends in January 2006, when the Stardust sample return
capsule will return to Earth and parachute to a designated
landing spot in the Utah desert .
Stardust carries the names of more than one million people
who contacted the project through the Internet. The names have
been electronically engraved on silicon microchips, each about
the size of a fingernail, that will fly onboard the spacecraft.
More information about JPL's von Karman Lecture Series can
be found on the Internet at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/lecture/, or
by calling (818) 354-5011. JPL is a division of the California
Institute of Technology.
You are subscribed to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's news listserv.
To unsubscribe, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . Leave the subject blank,
and type unsubscribe news in the body of the message.