Stardust Finds A Gem Of A Space Particle

February 28, 2006
Stardust Finds A Gem Of A Space Particle

This image shows a comet particle collected by NASA's Stardust spacecraft. The particle consists of the silicate mineral forsterite, also known as peridot in its gem form. It is surrounded by a thin rim of melted aerogel, the lightweight substance used to collect the comet dust samples. The particle is about 2 micrometers across.

NASA's Stardust spacecraft was launched on Feb. 7, 1999, from Cape Canaveral Air Station in Florida, aboard a Delta II rocket. It completed its primary goal to collect dust and carbon-based samples in January 2004, during its closest encounter with Comet Wild 2 (pronounced "Vilt 2"), named after its Swiss discoverer.

Stardust's capsule containing the samples parachuted safely to the Utah desert on Jan. 15, 2005, and the mission team transported the capsule to Johnson Space Center on Jan. 17. Since then, scientists have been extracting and examining comet-dust and potential interstellar-dust particles from the aerogel collector.

Copyright 2006 by Space Daily, Distributed United Press International

Explore further: Seven samples from the solar system's birth

Related Stories

Seven samples from the solar system's birth

April 28, 2014

At this year's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC), scientists reported that, after eight painstaking years of work, they have retrieved seven particles of interstellar dust from NASA's Stardust spacecraft.

Stardust Findings May Alter View of Comet Formation

March 14, 2006

Samples from comet Wild 2 have surprised scientists, indicating the formation of at least some comets may have included materials ejected by the early sun to the far reaches of the solar system.

UW astronomer hits cosmic paydirt with Stardust

January 18, 2006

Scientists at the Johnson Space Center in Houston were excited and awed Tuesday by what they saw when the sample-return canister from the Stardust spacecraft was opened.

Traveling space particles reveal secrets of comets

March 11, 2006

Particles of comet dust that traveled from the far reaches of the solar system to Earth are traveling the United States, including a stop at Argonne, where scientists are studying the particles to learn more about comets ...

NASA Stardust Capsule To Go On Display At Smithsonian

September 26, 2008

( -- Having returned the world's first particles from a comet, NASA's Stardust sample return capsule will join the collection of flight icons in the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington. The ...

Recommended for you

Getting into the flow on the International Space Station

December 1, 2015

Think about underground water and gas as they filter through porous materials like soil and rock beds. On Earth, gravity forces water and gas to separate as they flow through the ground, cleaning the water and storing it ...

Roboticists learn to teach robots from babies

December 1, 2015

Babies learn about the world by exploring how their bodies move in space, grabbing toys, pushing things off tables and by watching and imitating what adults are doing.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.