Stardust Status Report
Dr. Peter Tsou
February 7, 2006
Stardust Deputy Principal Investigator
It has been 3 weeks since landing!
Based upon an initial X-Ray Tomography (XT) examination of the quickstone - a particle track
removed from an aerogel fragment with an ultrasonic blade - the bifurcated track
(2 tracks as shown in Photo 1) is now determined to be "pentafurcated" (5 tracks) since
three more smaller tracks have been identified. With the XT, we will have a solid digital
model of the quickstone and be able to view the entire track from all directions
on a computer screen. This is especially important in identifying sizes of
grains scattered along the track (down to 0.1 microns) and their precise locations.
On January 19th, 2006, we released the first picture of a particle (shown in Photo 2) taken in
situ of the aerogel. We have now made a keystone of the track (shown in Photo 3).
The particle and its track removed from an aerogel fragment with an automated
keystone system. This keystone can now be conveniently transported and placed
into various analytical instruments to study its properties.
The Preliminary Examination Team will be gathered in the Stardust Cleanroom on
February 9 to begin the second cell extraction cycle. The Team has looked at some of the
removed small particles and found the entry fragments are melted more so than
the particles further down the track. This was as expected. The Team will remove some of the
larger particles to determine how well the grains had survived. The Team will also
remove a few grains from the largest tracks to determine their compositions.