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Stardust Sample Return Audio Clips
Audio clips with:
Dr. Don Brownlee, University of Washington, Seattle, principal investigator for NASA's Stardust mission.

Stardust launched February 7, 1999, on a mission to collect comet dust. On January 2, 2004, Stardust swooped through the cloud of dust around comet Wild 2 (pronounced VILT 2), gathering samples of comet dust and interstellar dust (the dust between the stars). The spacecraft is headed back to Earth with the samples, which are stowed in a sample return capsule. During the late evening hours of January 14, the Stardust spacecraft will release the capsule, which will then be slowed by parachutes until it makes a soft landing at the Utah Test and Training Range southwest of Salt Lake City at about 3:12 a.m. Mountain time January 15. A helicopter will transport the samples to a temporary cleanroom, then an airplane will fly them to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Scientists hope the samples will teach them more about the formation of our solar system. Comets are believed to be frozen remnants of the era when the solar system formed, so comet samples are thought to be pristine records from long ago.

More information on Stardust: and . Related Stardust podcast at .

CUT 1 – Dr. Don Brownlee, Stardust principal investigator
Running time: :27
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Transcript of CUT 1:
"OK, we are a sample return mission, so our primary goal is to collect samples and bring them back. But in the intervening seven years, we've had quite a trip. We've gone three loops around the sun, we did an earth flyby, we flew past a famous asteroid named Anne Frank, and of course we also took fabulous pictures of the comet during the time that we were collecting our hundreds of thousands of particles. Stardust is now streaming back to Earth and will be here on January 15."

CUT 2 – Dr. Don Brownlee, Stardust principal investigator
Running time: :39
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Transcript of CUT 2:
"Well, the capsule will enter the atmosphere at a high altitude and at about 100,000 feet, a small parachute comes out at over, at supersonic speed of about Mach 1.4. It's called a drogue chute. And then later at about 10,000 foot altitude, the main chute comes out and it gently hits the ground at about 15 feet per second. And it's picked up by a helicopter crew, taken back to a cleanroom, where part of this capsule is de-integrated, and then the samples then fly on an airplane to Johnson space center in Houston, Texas."

CUT 3 – Dr. Don Brownlee, Stardust principal investigator
Running time: :19
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Transcript of CUT 3:
"The comets are bodies that formed at the very edge of the solar system, out beyond the orbit of Neptune, where Pluto is. And they are the best preserved samples of the initial material that actually made the sun and earth and planets and even ourselves. So this is a history project."

CUT 4 – Dr. Don Brownlee, Stardust principal investigator
Running time: :24
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Transcript of CUT 4:
"The samples are distributed to people all over the world to investigate using the very best possible instruments. These instruments include electron microscopes, which weigh tons, and mass spectrometers, which weigh tons, and even nuclear accelerators. The largest instrument that I know that will be used to study this is the Stanford Linear Accelerator, which could produce beams of very finely focused X-rays, and this instrument is two miles long."

CUT 5 – Natural sound of Stardust launch on February 7, 1999, from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Running time: 1:40
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Transcript of CUT 5:
Natural sound of the countdown from NASA's Kennedy Space Center commentator George Diller, followed by rocket noise and dialogue from the launch team: "8, 7, 6 ... green board all the way across ... 4, 3, 2 ... We have main engine start. Zero and liftoff of the Stardust spacecraft, returning a time capsule with the elements of formation of our solar system."

"Programs are going in on time; the disturbances at liftoff were normal. It looks good. Looks very good, burning nicely. Main engine and verniers are looking good. On through Mach 1. Rates look good, attitudes look good. Forward through Max-Q and everything still looks good. The solids are burning nicely -- very symmetrical. We have solid motor burnout -- nice symmetrical solid motor burnout. We've got solid motor jettison, all four solids came off. Rates were low at solid jettison. Attitude disturbances were light. Looks like a nice clean solid jettison and main engine and verniers continue to go well. We're 14 miles altitude, 27 miles downrange already."