Scientists Confirm Comet Samples, Ecstatic with Return

Stardust scientists in JSC laboratory Donald Brownlee, Stardust principal investigator with the University of Washington, flashes a victory sign for the successful arrival of Stardust material. Also pictured are JSC's Mike Zolensky (left), curator and co-investigator for the project; Friedrich Horz, JSC, and Peter Tsou, Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Photo Credit: NASA
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January 19, 2006

Scientists said they were delighted with Stardust samples returned from the tail of a comet after an almost three-billion-mile journey.

Speaking at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Dr. Peter Tsou, Stardust deputy principal investigator, said researchers were ecstatic with the collection of the cometary and solar materials from outer space.

"Stardust is the realization of a 25-year dream to capture and return samples from a comet," Dr. Tsou, of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Pasadena, Calif., told news media representatives at Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Center and NASA Headquarters.

"This exceeded all of our grandest expectations," stated Dr. Donald Brownlee, Stardust principal investigator, also astronomy professor at the University of Washington, as he described the capsule return and capture process. The material responsible for capturing the tiny particles -- Aerogel -- is a sponge-like solid made of 99 percent empty space.

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2006



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