Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Prepares For Return Of Interstellar Cargo

Date:
December 30, 2005
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
NASA's Stardust mission is nearing Earth after a 4.63 billion kilometer (2.88 billion mile) round-trip journey to return cometary and interstellar dust particles back to Earth. Scientists believe the cargo will help provide answers to fundamental questions about comets and the origins of the solar system.

Artist's concept of Stardust approaching Earth, getting ready to release its sample return capsule.
Credit: Image credit: NASA/JPL

NASA's Stardust mission is nearing Earth after a 4.63 billion kilometer (2.88 billion mile) round-trip journey to return cometary and interstellar dust particles back to Earth. Scientists believe the cargo will help provide answers to fundamental questions about comets and the origins of the solar system.

The velocity of the sample return capsule, as it enters Earth's atmosphere at 46,440 kilometers per hour (28,860 miles per hour), will be the fastest of any human-made object on record. It surpasses the record set in May 1969 during the return of the Apollo 10 command module. The capsule is scheduled to return on Jan. 15, 2006.

"Comets are some of the most informative occupants of the solar system. The more we can learn from science exploration missions like Stardust, the more we can prepare for human exploration to the moon, Mars and beyond," said Dr. Mary Cleave, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

Several events must occur before scientists can retrieve cosmic samples from the capsule landing at the U.S. Air Force Utah Test and Training Range, southwest of Salt Lake City. Mission navigators will command the spacecraft to perform targeting maneuvers on Jan. 5 and 13. On Jan 14 at 9:57 p.m. PST (12:57 a.m. EST on Jan. 15), Stardust will release its sample return capsule. Four hours later, the capsule will enter Earth's atmosphere 125 kilometers (410,000 feet) over the Pacific Ocean.

The capsule will release a drogue parachute at approximately 32 kilometers (105,000 feet). Once the capsule has descended to about 3 kilometers (10,000 feet), the main parachute will deploy. The capsule is scheduled to land on the range at 2:12 a.m. PST (5:12 a.m. EST).

After the capsule lands, if conditions allow, a helicopter crew will fly it to the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, for initial processing. If weather does not allow helicopters to fly, special off-road vehicles will retrieve the capsule and return it to Dugway. Samples will then be moved to a special laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, where they will be preserved and studied.

"Locked within the cometary particles is unique chemical and physical information that could be the record of the formation of the planets and the materials from which they were made," said Dr. Don Brownlee, Stardust principal investigator at the University of Washington, Seattle.

NASA expects most of the collected particles to be no more than a third of a millimeter across. Scientists will slice these particle samples into even smaller pieces for study.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. manages the Stardust mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, developed and operates the spacecraft.

For information about the Stardust mission on the Web, visit http://www.nasa.gov/stardust .

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit http://www.nasa.gov/home .


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA Prepares For Return Of Interstellar Cargo." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 December 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051229112323.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2005, December 30). NASA Prepares For Return Of Interstellar Cargo. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051229112323.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA Prepares For Return Of Interstellar Cargo." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051229112323.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

A Hoax? Cosmetics Company Wants To Brighten The Moon

A Hoax? Cosmetics Company Wants To Brighten The Moon

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) FOREO, a Swedish cosmetics company, says it wants to brighten the moon to lower electricity costs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station

Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) On it's second attempt this week, The Space X company launched Friday from Cape Canaveral to ferry supplies to the International Space Station. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Unmanned Falcon 9 Rocket Blasts Off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida

Unmanned Falcon 9 Rocket Blasts Off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 18, 2014) The rocket, built and operated by Space Exploration Technologies, carries a Dragon cargo ship loaded with supplies and equipment destined for the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth's Near-Twin Found Orbiting Red Dwarf

Earth's Near-Twin Found Orbiting Red Dwarf

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The newly-discovered planet is roughly the size of Earth and could have liquid water on its surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins