Mission Science Results
- Comets As Toolkits For Jump-Starting Life (December 14, 2006)
- NASA Study Finds New Kind of Organics in Stardust Mission (December 14, 2006)
- Stardust Findings Suggest Comets More Complex Than Thought (December 14, 2006)
- Stardust Update from Dr. Donald Brownlee (May 12, 2006)
- Stardust Findings May Alter View of Comet Formation (NASA - March 13, 2006)
- Comet from Coldest Spot in Solar System has Material from Hottest Places (University of Washtington - March 13, 2006)
- Valentine's Day Surprise - Dr. Peter Tsou (Johnson Space Center - February 21, 2006)
- Images from AAAS (February 7, 2006)
- Stardust Update from Dr. Peter Tsou (Johnson Space Center - February 7, 2006)
- Stardust Update from Dr. Peter Tsou (Johnson Space Center - January 31, 2006)
- Stardust Update from Dr. Peter Tsou (Johnson Space Center - January 25, 2006)
- Scientists Confirm Comet Samples (Johnson Space Center - January 19, 2006)
- Dr. Peter Tsou Interview (January 18, 2006)
- Stardust Capsule Arrives at Houston (Johnson Space Center - January 17, 2006)
Comets are believed to be the oldest,
most primitive bodies in the solar system, possibly
comprised of some of the basic building blocks of life.
They contain the remains of materials used in the formation
of stars and planets, holding volatile, carbon-based
rich elements that are likely to provide clues about
the nature of the building blocks of our solar system.
Importantly, they may provide evidence that comets brought
water to the Earth, making possible life.
With the prospect of comets offering this treasure house
of ancient information, there is significant anticipation
about what findings scientists will be able to extrapolate
from a firsthand examination of cometary materials.
Because the Stardust spacecraft will both return samples
of material from a comet, and provide real time in-flight
data about what it encounters, there is a real possibility
of scientific findings that will change the way we view
The Stardust spacecraft flew
in front of the nucleus, and
through the halo of gases and dust at the head of comet
Wild 2. During this passage the spacecraft collected
dust and volatiles. A volatile is material difficult
to capture or hold permanently. The comet samples are
expected to be made up of ancient pre-solar interstellar
grains and nebular condensates that were incorporated
into comets at the birth of the solar system.
Discovery is an ongoing NASA program
offering the scientific community opportunities for
more frequent, high quality scientific investigations
using innovative management approaches. It seeks to
keep performance high and expenses low by using new
technologies, costing less than $150 (FY92$) million
to build and are joint efforts with industry, small
businesses and universities.
Stardust is the fourth NASA Discovery mission to be
chosen to follow Mars Pathfinder, Near Earth Asteroid
Rendezvous (NEAR) and the Lunar Prospector.
Explore the Stardust web site for
more detailed Mission
and Science information. For a discussion of the technologies
used in this mission, including aerogel, visit the Stardust
|Last updated November 4, 2009