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Links to broadcast quality audio files and transcripts -- Dr. Scott Sandford, astrophysicist at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., was interviewed about the Stardust comet sample-return mission – humanity’s first opportunity to study the original material from which our solar system was built. Launched in 1999, the mission is flying to a rendezvous with the Wild-2 (pronounced VILD-TWO) comet in 2004 and is scheduled to return samples of cometary dust to Earth in 2006. The stardust mission is slated to be the first to return a sample from outside the Earth’s moon system. More information about the mission is on the Internet at:

This interview was posted on the web April 28, 2003. Sandford provided these comments prior to a talk he gave about the mission at Foothill College, Los Altos Hills, Calif. on April 23.

Question14. What would you like to add about the Stardust mission?

The audio recording is 1:42 minutes

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Full Transcript (below)

14. What would you like to add about the Stardust mission?(1:42 minutes)

Dr. Scott Sandford: "One thing that I want to really stress that’s important, and it’s true of all spacecraft missions. . . is that they really are the result of the cooperative effort of a lot of people. And, so, I mentioned the principal investigator and the co-investigators as people who are ultimately responsible for making sure the scientific aspects of this mission work. But, of course, there’s a huge army of people responsible for it in addition to things like designing it in the first place, building it, testing it, getting it to launch, keeping it alive in space, getting us to the comet, successfully collecting the sample, getting us back to the Earth, and getting the return capsule down safely to the ground, and so on. And so, just like all other missions, Stardust has benefited from a large crew of people who have been working for, you know, for many of them, many, many years to get this to successfully happen. We’re really looking forward to this January when we’ll have the comet encounter. The principal science of this mission, of course, is to grab that sample, and bring it back. But we’ll do some other interesting things while we’re there. The spacecraft has a camera onboard. And we should get some of the best pictures of a comet nucleus ever. And we have some machinery on there that --- dust flux monitors – that allow us to count how many grains are impacting on the spacecraft. So, we’ll get a good sense of what the dust environment – what kind of – what’s the cloud like around a comet. How many big particles – how many small particles, and so on. Umm, and so all these other instruments will be taking measurements during the encounter. And so, in January, we should have some pretty exciting news for everybody, even before the sample gets back in 2006."

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