Stardust sample “…exceeds all expectations”!

By Phil Plait | January 18, 2006 3:02 pm

The Stardust sample container has been shipped to Johnson Space Center. When they cracked it open to look at the samples, they got a nice surprise.

“It exceeds all expectations,” said Donald Brownlee, a University of Washington astronomy professor who is principal investigator, or lead scientist, for Stardust. “It’s a huge success. We can see lots of impacts. There are big ones, there are small ones.”

Yay! It’s nice to know such a bold mission was a success. Brownlee estimates there may be more than a million particles trapped in the aerogel, which will yield a scientific bonanza about comets.

Incidentally, well over 60,000 people have signed up for studying the images of the aerogel through the Stardust@Home project.

I just found out I’ll be giving a talk near Johnson in March (see the blog sidebar), and I wonder if I can wrangle a little trip to see the clean room where these guys will be stored…? That would be very, very cool, and only karmic since I missed the re-entry.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Science

Comments (7)

  1. 60,000 participants for S@H already? Wow.

    Can’t wait to get started on that. :)

  2. TJ

    I hope I’m one of the 60,000 that they select!

    *bouncing*

    Oh pick me! Pick me!

  3. Darn! I was just at the Johnson Space Center and just missed the Stardust delivery :-( – Not that they would have let me near the samples of course, but it would have been pretty cool to say I was there when the Stardust sample container was there. I would surely think they would allow the “Bad Astronomer” to the see the Clean Room.

  4. PK

    well, I dunno… with his butterfingers… ;-)

  5. P. Edward Murray

    Just thinking here….what ever happened to that Guy who gave birth to the idea of this little spacecraft?

  6. jimmy

    i have a few unanswered questions about comets,and am wondering if you can answer them? here goes it. is’nt it true that comets are suppossedly made of ices,dirt,and or sandy material? and also that they develop a tail inbound to the sun between saturn and jupiter? the story goes something like the heat of the sun hits the icy material,warms it and the tail develops? i’m assuming the high speed of inbound trajectory has something to do with the length of any given tail. so why is the tail the same size,on the way out. the tail cannot possibly be the same size according to physics. the comet should be outrunning the tail because of the different speed,relative to the sun. why the discrepancy? also if comet tails are developed between saturn and jupiter,why do the icy moons of jupiter and saturn have no tails? if the magnetic fields of the jovian planets are protecting their relative moons,then why does’nt mars polar icy caps have no tails? it has no magnetic field to protect it? houston….we have some problems!

  7. joe

    has anyone heard an update on this one? I am really curious

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