Volume: 04, Issue: 11 01/25/2006 
Donald Brownlee, Stardust principal investigator with the University of Washington, flashes a victory sign for the successful arrival of Stardust material. Image Credit: NASA
Expand Image
Dr. Peter Tsou, Stardust deputy principal investigator, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, holds a Stardust sample tray while speaking to various news media representatives during a press conference at Johnson Space Center. Image credit: NASA
Expand Image
Composite image of comet Wild 2. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
Expand Image
Printer Friendly Version
Other Articles in This Issue:
NASA's Pluto Mission Launched
NASA Magnetic Field Mission Ends
NASA Honors Apollo Astronauts Michael Collins and Edgar Mitchell
Grant Opportunities

Scientists Confirm Comet Samples

The Stardust spacecraft's Sample Return Canister has arrived at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston.

After a seven-year, three-billion mile journey in space and a return to Earth last weekend, the canister arrived by air transport to Houston around mid-day on January 17, 2006. In a special laboratory, a team of scientists at JSC will begin work to open the container, analyze the comet and interstellar dust samples it is anticipated to contain and prepare them for study by select scientists worldwide.

An internet webcam is providing live views of the scientists' work on the canister. To view them, visit:


For images of the canister's arrival in Houston and at JSC, visit:


Scientists have confirmed that samples from a comet and interstellar dust have been returned to Earth by the Stardust spacecraft. The scientist team opened the Stardust sample return capsule on Tuesday, January 17, in a special facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC), Houston.

"The collection of cometary particles has exceeded our expectations," said Dr. Donald Brownlee, Stardust principal investigator from the University of Washington, Seattle. "We were absolutely thrilled to see thousands of impacts on the aerogel."

Inside the capsule, a tennis racket-like sample tray holds the particles captured in a gel as the spacecraft flew within 149 miles of comet Wild 2 in January 2004. An opposite side of the tray holds interstellar dust particles caught streaming through the solar system by Stardust during its seven-year journey. The team is analyzing the particle capture cells and removing individual grains of comet and interstellar dust. They will be sent to select investigators worldwide.

Leaders of the science and curation teams will participate in a press conference from JSC. The briefing will be broadcast on NASA Television and question-and-answer capability for reporters is available from participating NASA centers. Key scientists also will be available for live interviews via satellite.

Participants in the news conference will include:

Dr. Donald Brownlee, Principal Investigator, University of Washington
Dr. Peter Tsou, Deputy Principal Investigator, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Dr. Michael Zolensky, Stardust Curator and Co-investigator, JSC
Dr. Carlton Allen, Astromaterials Curator, JSC

For more information about the Stardust mission please visit the following websites :

© 1997-2017 Space ExplorersTM, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  Archived Issues Issue Index Contact Feedback Subscribe Home