SETI [ASTRO] STARDUST Curation Home Page

Larry Klaes (
Mon, 19 Jul 1999 17:54:43 -0400

>X-Authentication-Warning: majordom set sender
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>Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1999 17:44:30 GMT
>From: Ron Baalke <>
>Subject: [ASTRO] STARDUST Curation Home Page
>Reply-To: Ron Baalke <>
>STARDUST Curation Home Page
>The STARDUST Curation Team at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas
>have created their own website:
>STARDUST, a NASA Discovery-class mission, will be first mission to return
>samples from a comet. Grains from Comet Wild-2's coma - the gas and dust
>envelope that surrounds the comet 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
>coma, a tray of aerogel will be exposed, and coma grains will be captured in
>the aerogel. Following the collection, the aerogel tray is closed for return
>to Earth in 2006.
>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.
>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
>The sample return capsule will parachute to Earth in February 2006, and will
>land in western Utah. Once on the ground, the sample return capsule will be
>placed into a dry nitrogen environment and flown to the curation lab at
>Johnson Space Center. This curation lab is also where the Apollo moon rocks
>and meteorites recovered from the Antarctic are stored.
>Approximately six months of preliminary investigation by a dedicated team
>will precede release of the sample to the general analysis community. This
>preliminary investigation period has the goal of documenting the state of
>the collected sample, identifying the range of samples present, and
>assessing the best way to proceed with general sample distribution and

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