Stardust Finds A Gem Of A Space Particle

Feb 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: Telescope tech using membrane optics moves to Phase 2

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Comet Wild2: First evidence of space weathering

Mar 27, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- The traditional picture of comets as cold, icy, unchanging bodies throughout their history is being reappraised in the light of analyses of dust grains from Comet Wild2. A team led by the ...

NASA studying ways to make 'tractor beams' a reality

Oct 31, 2011

Tractor beams -- the ability to trap and move objects using laser light -- are the stuff of science fiction, but a team of NASA scientists has won funding to study the concept for remotely capturing planetary ...

Recommended for you

First-of-its-kind NASA space-weather project

11 hours ago

A NASA scientist is launching a one-to-two-year pilot project this summer that takes advantage of U.S. high-voltage power transmission lines to measure a phenomenon that has caused widespread power outages ...

How many moons does Venus have?

18 hours ago

There are dozens upon dozens of moons in the Solar System, ranging from airless worlds like Earth's Moon to those with an atmosphere (most notably, Saturn's Titan). Jupiter and Saturn have many moons each, ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

How many moons does Venus have?

There are dozens upon dozens of moons in the Solar System, ranging from airless worlds like Earth's Moon to those with an atmosphere (most notably, Saturn's Titan). Jupiter and Saturn have many moons each, ...

First-of-its-kind NASA space-weather project

A NASA scientist is launching a one-to-two-year pilot project this summer that takes advantage of U.S. high-voltage power transmission lines to measure a phenomenon that has caused widespread power outages ...