Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

January 15, 2006

Good day, sunshine here in Tracy CA USA.

Stardust capsule drop successful. - LRK -
01.15.06 -- NASA's Stardust sample return mission returned safely to Earth
when the capsule carrying cometary and interstellar particles successfully
touched down at 5:10 a.m. Eastern time (3:10 a.m. Mountain time) in the
desert salt flats of the U.S. Air Force Utah Test and Training Range.
+ Full story
+ Audio clips for media: post-recovery briefing
NASA's Stardust sample return mission returned safely to Earth when the
capsule carrying cometary and interstellar particles successfully touched
down at 2:10 a.m. Pacific time (3:10 a.m. Mountain time) in the desert salt
flats of the U.S. Air Force Utah Test

Now the search begins. The 'aerogel' will have to be checked for the comet
samples. - LRK -

NASA - Aerogel Helps Scientists Unravel Mysteries of Comets
Aerogel Helps Scientists Unravel Mysteries of Comets 1.10.06 Strange stuff
called 'aerogel' that looks like a semi-transparent, blue cloud, but that is
solid, is carrying captured comet dust to Earth for a Jan. 15, 2006,
12 Jan 06

Looks like you could participate. - LRK -

Public Tapped to Hunt for Stardust
By Tracy Staedter, Discovery News

Jan. 12, 2006 — In a new project called Stardust@home, University of
California, Berkeley, researchers will invite Internet users to help them
search for grains of interstellar dust captured by NASA's Stardust
spacecraft, scheduled to drop its light load of dust to Earth on Sunday.

The project takes its inspiration from SETI@home, another U.C. Berkeley
program that combines the idle processing power of millions of
Internet-connected PCs into a huge supercomputer that is used to crunch data
in the search for extraterrestrial life.

Unlike the passive search for ETs, however, Stardust@home aims to enlist
thousands of volunteers to help sift through the microscopic pictures the
scientists will take of the spacecraft's cosmic payload.
Public to look for dust grains in Stardust detectors
By Robert Sanders, Media Relations 10 January 2006

BERKELEY – Astronomy buffs who jumped at the chance to use their home
computers in the SETI@home search for intelligent life in the universe will
soon be able to join an Internet-based search for dust grains originating
from stars millions of light years away.

In a new project called Stardust@home, University of California, Berkeley,
researchers will invite Internet users to help them search for a few dozen
submicroscopic grains of interstellar dust captured by NASA's Stardust
spacecraft and due to return to Earth in January 2006.

We went to a comet to catch some grains from long, long ago. In the
book/movie Andromeda Strain some
biologists speculate that if we ever make contact with extraterrestrials,
those life forms are likely to be--like most life on earth--one-celled or
smaller creatures, more comparable to bacteria than little green men. -LRK -

Wonder what we might find in the cold traps at the Moon's polar regions? -LRK -
Hope comet dust doesn't germinate while in the Berkeley lab. :-)

Well don't worry, we have been pelted by many tons of cosmic dust each day
or so I am told.

Many tons of dust grains, including samples of asteroids and comets, fall
from space onto the Earth's atmosphere each day. An even larger amount of
spacecraft debris particulates reenter the Earth's atmosphere every day.
Once in the stratosphere this "cosmic dust" and spacecraft debris joins
terrestrial particles such as volcanic ash, windborne desert dust and pollen
grains. High flying aircraft with special sticky collectors capture this
dust as it falls through the stratosphere, before it becomes mixed with
Earth dust. The ultra-clean Cosmic Dust Laboratory, established in 1981 to
handle particles one-tenth the diameter of a human hair, curates over 2000
cosmic dust particles and distributes samples to over 30 investigators.

The Cosmic Dust Lab is currently closed while they receive and process the
Stardust Mission samples. - LRK -

Maybe the next Moon walkers will take along a roll of sticky fly paper to
catch some Solar Wind samples and any comet dust we might be flying through
during those meteor shower days. - LRK -

November 30, 2001: Vivid, colorful streaks of light. A ghostly flash.
Strange crackling noises and twisting smoky trails. Add to those a cup of
hot cocoa, and you have all the ingredients for a delightful meteor shower
... on Earth.

The recent Leonids were a good example. On Nov. 18th our planet plunged into
a debris cloud shed by comet Tempel-Tuttle. Sky watchers saw thousands of
meteors -- each streak of light a tiny bit of comet dust disintegrating in
the atmosphere.

You wouldn't have to put up with Terrestrial Dust. - LRK -

for 'gunpowder')

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site
Bog Spot
RSS link
News ltr
Full Story
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
D.C. Agle (818) 354-9011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Erica Hupp/Merrilee Fellows (202) 358-1237/(818) 393-0754
NASA Headquarters, Washington
NEWS RELEASE: 2006-009
January 15, 2006

NASA's Comet Tale Draws to a Successful Close in Utah Desert
NASA's Stardust sample return mission returned safely to Earth when the
capsule carrying cometary and interstellar particles successfully touched
down at 2:10 a.m. Pacific time (3:10 a.m. Mountain time) in the desert salt
flats of the U.S. Air Force Utah Test and Training Range.

Ten years of planning and seven years of flight operations were realized
early this morning when we successfully picked up our return capsule off of
the desert floor in Utah," said Tom Duxbury, Stardust project manager at
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "The Stardust project has
delivered to the international science community material that has been
unaltered since the formation of our solar system."

Stardust released its sample return capsule at 9:57 p.m. Pacific time (10:57
p.m. Mountain time) last night. The capsule entered the atmosphere four
hours later at 1:57 a.m. Pacific time (2:57 a.m. Mountain time). The drogue
and main parachutes deployed at 2:00 and 2:05 a.m. Pacific time,
respectively (3:00 and 3:05 a.m. Mountain time).

"I have been waiting for this day since the early 1980s when Deputy
Principal Investigator Dr. Peter Tsou of JPL and I designed a mission to
collect comet dust," said Dr. Don Brownlee, Stardust principal investigator
from the University of Washington, Seattle. "To see the capsule safely back
on its home planet is a thrilling accomplishment."

The sample return capsule's science canister and its cargo of comet and
interstellar dust particles will be stowed inside a special aluminum
carrying case to await transfer to the Johnson Space Center, Houston, where
it will be opened. NASA's Stardust mission traveled 2.88 billion miles
during its seven-year round-trip odyssey. Scientists believe these precious
samples will help provide answers to fundamental questions about comets and
the origins of the solar system.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Stardust
mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin
Space Systems, Denver, developed and operated the spacecraft.

For information about the Stardust mission on the Web, visit .
Stardust Return Podcast
+ Listen Now (MP3)

NASA's comet cargo is home!

This is a Stardust news capsule from JPL -- NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
in Pasadena, Calif. I'm Jane Platt.

SOUND FROM CONTROL ROOM: All stations, we have touchdown … (cheers)

Some awfully happy team members in the control room at JPL watched the
sample return capsule from NASA's Stardust mission glide down for a soft
landing at the Utah Test and Training Range. It happened at 2:10 a.m.
Mountain time on Sunday, Jan. 15.

Tucked inside the capsule: particles from comet Wild 2 and from interstellar
dust -- the stuff that streams between the stars. Since comets are believed
to be the frozen leftovers from our solar system's formation, scientists
think this precious space cargo will help answer a lot of questions about
comets and our solar system.

The spacecraft's 7-year, 2.88 billion mile journey to a comet and back again
began winding down at 10:57 p.m. Mountain time on Saturday night, when the
craft released its capsule for final descent to Earth. The capsule's two
parachutes opened and helped to deposit the capsule gently on the ground in
the Utah desert.

Helicopters then swooped down to pick up the capsule. It was carried to a
temporary cleanroom nearby at the US Army Dugway Proving Ground. Those
eagerly-awaited samples inside will go to NASA's Johnson Space Center in
Houston. The tiny particles will then be tested in labs around the world,
using ultra state-of-the-art equipment.

More information on Stardust is online at .
Thanks for joining us for this Stardust news capsule.

+ Listen Now (MP3)
Aerogel Helps Scientists Unravel Mysteries of Comets

Strange stuff called 'aerogel' that looks like a semi-transparent, blue
cloud, but that is solid, is carrying captured comet dust to Earth for a
Jan. 15, 2006, landing in a Utah desert.

In January 2004, the Stardust spacecraft flew within 147 miles (236
kilometers) of the comet Wild 2 (VILT-TWO) and survived the high-speed
impact of millions of dust particles and small rocks up to nearly two-tenths
of an inch (one-half centimeter) across. With its tennis-racket-shaped
collector extended, Stardust captured thousands of comet particles in the
see-through aerogel, which includes silica and oxygen.

Aerogel samples: effects of light scattering off the microstructure + View
Larger Image

"It's a little bit like collecting BBs by shooting them into Styrofoam,"
said Scott Sandford, an astrophysicist and Stardust mission co-investigator
based at NASA Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley. "Some of
the grains are likely to have exotic isotopic ratios that will give us an
indication that we're looking at materials that aren't as old as the solar
system, but that are, in fact, older than the solar system," Sandford

Another mission objective was to expose the spacecraft to the interstellar
dust stream for 150 days to grab particles. After collecting them, the
aerogel collector retracted into the spacecraft's capsule. Stardust will be
the first mission to capture and return a substantial sample from outside
Earth's moon system.

Making sure that precious comet and interstellar particles imbedded in the
aerogel are not affected by earthly contaminants was an important task to
complete before the Stardust spacecraft was launched on Feb. 7, 1999, from
Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida. aboard a Delta II rocket.

"Under Dr. Sandford's guidance, I performed the lab analysis of the aerogel
using infrared (IR) light to determine the level of organic contamination,"
said Max Bernstein, a scientist at NASA Ames. "These and other preliminary lab tests ultimately led the Stardust aerogel development team to devise a bake-vacuum-bake cycle to reduce the carbon content in aerogel," Bernstein said.

"Aerogel is made mostly of sand (silica), and what we're interested in is
the organic material in the cometary samples," Bernstein said. "We measured
organic contamination in aerogel early on. We raised a concern, and Peter
Tsou and the aerogel team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
Calif., devised a method to reduce carbon content in aerogel by a factor of

Infrared light that astronomers use to detect organic molecules in space
also can be used to measure organic molecules in the laboratory. In their
laboratory, Ames scientists shined IR light though a piece of an early batch
of test aerogel, and they saw organic contamination. Because infrared is
light that is not visible to the human eye, scientists use special detectors
to 'see' IR. If scientists detect a specific IR color scheme, they can tell
that a specific molecular fragment is moving and is present in the sample of
material they are examining.

"If you understand that color scheme, then when you make the measurement,
you can say, 'ah hah, I spotted colors corresponding to a carbon-hydrogen
motion, so there must be carbons and hydrogen in the aerogel, not just
silicon and oxygen,'" Bernstein explained. "Thanks in part to our
measurements, we now have cleaner aerogel, which is flying on the Stardust

In cooperation with Bernstein, graduate student Maegan K. Spencer of
Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., is conducting more sophisticated
aerogel organic contamination tests in the laboratories of Stanford
Professor Richard Zare.

The returning Stardust capsule will strike Earth's atmosphere at eight miles
(12.8 kilometers) per second - more than 10 times faster than a speeding
bullet. That is fast enough to go from San Francisco to Los Angeles in only
one minute. The 101-pound (45.7 kilogram) conical object will hurtle through
the atmosphere and slow before the spacecraft finally parachutes down to
Earth in a Utah dry lake. The landing will occur on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2006,
at about 3 a.m. MST, in a restricted area - the Utah Test and Training
Range, located southwest of Salt Lake City.

"There will be a team of scientists at Johnson Space Center who will assess
what we actually got back from the comet so we can verify we did get a
useful sample," Sandford said. "A small portion of the samples will then be
used to make a preliminary study of the returned material. After the
preliminary examination is complete, all the samples will be made available
to the general scientific community for more detailed study. My guess is
people will be asking for and working on these samples for decades to come."

John Bluck
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: 650/604-5026

Stardust flight safely home

p2p news / p2pnet: The first vehicle to scoop particles from the tail of
comet Wild 2 and collect interstellar dust has safely returned to earth
after a 4.7 billion kilometer (3 billion-mile) journey.

Touch-down was in Utah's Salt Lake Desert at 10:12 GMT.

This aerogel array was mounted on top of the Stardust spacecraft to collect
the samples and now the Stardust space ship is back home, scientists want
people with computers to help them search for a few dozen submicroscopic
grains of interstellar dust.

Project Stardust@home is being organized by the University of California,
Berkeley, and under it, volunteer surfers will be asked to help find the
infinitesimally tiny particles with a web-based virtual microscope developed
by computer scientist David Anderson, director of the SETI@home project, and
physics graduate student Joshua Von Korff.

Stardust's main mission was to capture dust from the tail of comet Wild 2
but in the process, it also, "captured a sprinkling of dust from distant
stars, perhaps created in supernova explosions less than 10 million years
ago," says UC Berkeley News.

Andrew Westphal, a UC Berkeley senior fellow and associate director of the
campus's Space Sciences Laboratory, developed the technique NASA will use to
digitally scan the aerogel in which the interstellar dust grains are

"Like SETI@home, which is the world's largest computer, we hope
Stardust@home will also be a large computer, though more of a neural
network, using brains together to find these grains," Bryan Mendez of the
Center for Science Education at the Space Sciences Laboratory is quoted as

Mendez and Nahide Craig, assistant research astronomer at the laboratory,
plan to create K-12 curricula around the Stardust@home project and to get
local astronomy groups to boost participation.

In an experiment using a special air gun, particles shot into aerogel at
high velocities leave carrot-shaped trails in the substance, says the story,
going on:

"Based on previous measurements of interstellar dust by both the Ulysses and
Galileo spacecrafts, Westphal expects to find approximately 45 grains of
submicroscopic dust in the collector, a mosaic of tiles of lightweight
aerogel forming a disk about 16 inches in diameter - nearly a square foot in
area - and half an inch thick. Though those searching for pieces of Wild 2's
tail will easily be able to pick out the thousands of cometary dust grains
embedded in the front of the detector, finding the 45 or so grains of
interstellar dust stuck in the back of the detector won't be so easy."

But the virtual microscope will allow anyone with an Internet connection to
scan some of the 1.5 million pictures of the aerogel for tracks left by the
tiny bits of speeding dust.

Each picture will cover an area smaller than a grain of salt.

The web-based virtual microscope will be made available in mid-March, even
before all the scans have been completed in a cleanroom at Houston's Johnson
Space Center, says UC Berkeley News.

"In all, Westphal expects to need some 30,000 person hours to look through
the scanned images at least four times," it states. "Searching each picture
should take just a few seconds, but the close attention required as the
viewer repeatedly focuses up and down through image after image will
probably limit the number a person can scan in one sitting."

Each volunteer will have to pass a test where he or she is asked to find the
track in a few test samples.

If at least two of the four examining each image report a track, it'll be
passed to 100 more volunteers for verification and if at least 20 of these
report a track, "UC Berkeley undergraduates who are expert at spotting dust
grain tracks will confirm the identification," the story continues.
"Eventually, the grain will be extracted for analysis.

"Discoverers will get to name their dust grains."

Once the grains are identified and analyzed, Westphal hopes the information
will tell about the internal processes of distant stars such as supernovas,
flaring red giants or neutron stars that produce interstellar dust and also
generate the heavy elements like carbon, nitrogen and oxygen necessary for

Craig and Mendez are now creating a teacher's lesson guide that uses the
Stardust@home Virtual Microscope to teach students about the origins of the
solar system.

A section of the Stardust@home web site also will be aimed at the general

Also See:
UC Berkeley News - Public to look for dust grains in Stardust detectors,
January 10, 2006


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