Letter From Fred Whipple
This letter to the STARDUST project was received from Fred Whipple. Dr. Whipple is the originator of the "dirty snowball" theory for comets, and has also discovered a few comets himself. The Whipple Shields that the STARDUST spacecraft will carry were named in his honor. The Whipple Shields will protect the spacecraft when it encounters Comet Wild-2 in 2004. in honor of Fred Whipple. This letter will be placed on the microchip that will be carried on the STARDUST spacecraft to Comet Wild-2.
23KCenter For Astrophysics Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA November 25, 1997 To all Space Buffs: Comets have long been an unexplored wasteland. Today we know that they are black and cold, consisting of ices and dust that coalesced from an interstellar cloud as it collapsed to form the solar system. Their physical structure is poorly known. Some astronomers guess that comets have low densities, perhaps less than half that of water ice. This material would be crushable in one's hands. Even the ratio of ices to dust remains a subject of uncertainty. Probably the physical structure varies over small distances such as a few meters. May Stardust tame comets to become terra cognita, of known structure and isotopic composition!! Fred L. Whipple
See also a letter from Paul Wild
Ron Baalke, STARDUST Webmaster, email@example.com
Last Updated Wednesday, 07-Jun-2000 13:50:34 PDT