Interstellar Dust Grains Found by Stardust@home
(and The Planetary Society Helped)
Seven possible interstellar dust grains have been found by Stardust@home, a citizen scientist project that The Planetary Society helped out early on. The dust grains would be the first ever examples of contemporary interstellar dust.
My collage of all the asteroids and comets visited by spacecraft is probably the single most popular image I have ever posted on this blog. I've now updated it to be in color and to include Toutatis.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/10/04 11:18 CDT
It's been a very full day at the DPS-EPSC 2011 joint meeting. My day was less full than it might have been, because I overslept and missed most of the morning's session. I really needed the rest though so I think it was probably for the best!
Posted by Mike Malaska on 2011/05/12 05:13 CDT
Citizen Science projects let volunteers easily contribute to active science programs. They're useful when there is so much data it overwhelms computing algorithms (if they exist) or the scientific research team attempting to process it.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/31 03:59 CDT
April 2011 will see MESSENGER begin the science phase of its orbital mission at Mercury, and should, I think, also see the start of Dawn's approach observations of Vesta. At Mars, Opportunity is back on the road again, rolling inexorably toward Endeavour. At Saturn, Cassini will continue its focus on Saturn and Titan science.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/25 03:44 CDT
So, it's over. Stardust's last transmission to Earth was yesterday, March 24, 2011 at 23:33 UTC. Its final act was to burn up all of its last remaining fuel, a move intended to help engineers validate their guesses for how much fuel actually remained in the tanks.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/24 04:32 CDT
Since Stardust is being decommissioned today I thought it'd be fitting to take a look back at one of its data sets. I hadn't fiddled with the Annefrank data set before, and it was small and easy to deal with.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/23 10:28 CDT
What's that in my eye? Must be a piece of stardust that's making my eyes water as I read that Stardust will be given its very last command tomorrow, a command that'll end its long life, but give its builders one more piece of valuable data in the process.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/28 12:44 CST
I'm pleased to announce the winners of the Planetary Society's "Are We There Yet?" Stardust contest!
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/28 11:45 CST
Yesterday the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, Stardust at Tempel 1: The First Second Trip to a Comet.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/24 05:50 CST
According to the Stardust website, the spacecraft has continued taking navigational camera images of Tempel 1 since last Monday's flyby. But "This will end with a Navcam calibration that will take place [today]. This will be the end of the official Tempel 1 encounter activities. Planning is under way for the decommissioning of the spacecraft."
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/18 01:26 CST
Here's two more items from Tuesday's flyby of comet Tempel 1 by the Stardust spacecraft to add to my previous roundup of Tempel 1 data. The first represents data from a dust counting instrument, portrayed as sound, and the second is a terrific morph animation of the flyby produced by Daniel Macháček.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/16 03:20 CST
I've spent a day with the Stardust images from Tempel 1, and had a chat with co-investigator Jessica Sunshine, so here are a bunch of images with some preliminary scientific commentary.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/15 03:10 CST
It was a very happy science team at this afternoon's press briefing following the Stardust encounter with Tempel 1.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/15 11:05 CST
Here's a quick-and-dirty animated GIF of the 39 images of Tempel 1 that have arrived on Earth so far from Stardust. I've put a big watermark on this animation because it's not a final product.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/15 10:09 CST
I really didn't expect these images to look so good! I'd prepared myself for blurry images and a lot of squinting to try to match up features in pictures between Deep Impact and Stardust views of Tempel 1, but in fact the resemblance is obvious and you can clearly see that they successfully imaged the area in which Deep Impact's Impactor craft collided with the comet.
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