Tuesday is looking like a bit of hit-and-miss day..not too many things that grab my attention, but wouldn't you know it - it was a talk at 0830 (shower, breakfast, lecture, 15 minutes) - that was a must see. Mark Burchell from the University of Kent back home in the UK gave a brief overview of the cometary samples collected by Stardust.
Mark made an excellent point early on, and one that I want to echo. The Stardust team has not been selfish - they have handed out samples to appropriate scientists the world over. They could be forgiven for keeping them for themselves, but instead they have sent samples around the world to amazing analytical facilities from small spectrometers all the way up to massive multi billion dollar synchrotron facilities.
NASA / JPL / Emily Lakdawalla
Animation of Stardust's flyby of Wild 2
This animation is composed of 24 frames captured by Stardust as it flew by Wild 2 on January 2, 2004.
As a brief reminder, Stardust flew past comet Wild 2 in January 2004 at more than 6 km/second. It hid behind a multi layer whipple shield to protect itself from the stream of cometary matter it flew through - but stuck out a tennis-racket like array of 2 x 4 x 3cm chunks of this magical material called