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Parihaka
16 Jan 06,, 05:13
DUGWAY PROVING GROUND, Utah Jan 15, 2006 A space capsule ferrying the first comet dust samples to Earth parachuted onto a remote stretch of desert before dawn Sunday, drawing cheers from elated scientists.

The touchdown capped a seven-year journey by NASA's Stardust spacecraft, which zipped past a comet in 2004 to capture minute dust particles.

"Inside this thing is our treasure," principal scientist Don Brownlee of the University of Washington said after the capsule landed safely on the Utah salt flats.
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A helicopter recovery team picked it up and transferred it to nearby Michael Army Air Field. The capsule will be flown Tuesday to the Johnson Space Center in Houston where scientists will unlock the canister containing the cosmic particles.

Researchers believe about a million samples of comet and interstellar dust most tinier than the width of a human hair are locked inside.

The dust grains are believed to be pristine leftovers from the birth of the solar system, with some of the particles thought to be older than the sun. Scientists hope to slice them into smaller bits and probe them under a microscope to directly learn about their chemical makeup and the processes that shaped the early universe.

"This is not the finish line. This is just the intermediate pit stop," mission manager Tom Duxbury said.

The cosmic samples were gathered in 2004 from the comet Wild 2, a frozen body of ice and dust believed to have formed billions of years ago. The Stardust spacecraft used a tennis racket-sized collector mitt to snag the particles and store them in an aluminum canister. Along the way, it also scooped up interstellar dust, tiny particles that stream through the solar system from other parts of the galaxy.

Early Sunday, the capsule nose-dived through Earth's atmosphere at 29,000 mph, the fastest return for a man-man probe.

It appeared as a bright orange fireball as it streaked over the small mining town of Tonopah, Nev., halfway between Las Vegas and Reno, said Ron Dantowitz of NASA's Ames Research Center, who witnessed the capsule's trek.
This has to be the coolest piece of engineering I've seen in a long while....

dalem
16 Jan 06,, 08:33
This has to be the coolest piece of engineering I've seen in a long while....

Yeah, this one and the one that rammed the comet a few months ago.

When NASA, JPL, or ESA decide to do things right, man they do a good job.

Cometary bodies, all your base belong to us!

-dale

Parihaka
16 Jan 06,, 08:41
http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/images/overview/sdri_s.jpg

http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/images/overview/teamphoto.gif

Some of the team members :cool:

tankie
18 Dec 07,, 05:48
This has to be the coolest piece of engineering I've seen in a long while....

Agreed , the Ferrari of space tech .:cool:

Jay
18 Dec 07,, 06:35
propping up old news, eh...tankie :)


Or, it just registered your 69 year old brain:P :)) :)

jk :)


You can read more on the mission here,
Stardust | JPL | NASA (http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/overview/index.html)

Blademaster
18 Dec 07,, 07:10
Didn't that capsule crack and render the findings practically useless?

tankie
18 Dec 07,, 10:12
propping up old news, eh...tankie :)


Or, it just registered your 69 year old brain:P :)) :)

jk :)


You can read more on the mission here,
Stardust | JPL | NASA (http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/overview/index.html)

:tongue: nahhhh i was just browsing and saw this thread , i had never seen it before , but yea maybe your right ,, senility huh? :))