Stardust Status Report
From Dr. Peter Tsou
Stardust Deputy Principal Investigator
Happy Valentine's from Stardust!
As part of the first Sample Processing Cycle, the keystone of the first released
particle was taken to the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven
National Laboratory in New York and examined by the far-IR beam.
The particle was shown to be definitely a cometary mineral and not secondary debris.
As part of the second Sample Processing Cycle, the terminal particle - the particle
at the end of the tract - was removed from the keystone for further analyses
on Valentine's Day. To our surprise, we found the particle to be heart-shaped!
Happy Valentine's to the world from Stardust! I have been assured that this
is the real shape of the particle!
Image right:A heart-shaped comet particle extracted from aerogel. Image credit: NASA/JPL
This particle will be embedded in sulfur first with few wafers removed for
mineralogy and petrology studies, and then the remainder of the particle
will be pressed into Au foil for isotopic studies.
During the 2nd Sample Processing Cycle, we removed four additional Wild 2 aerogel
cells with relative ease, after having made some adjustments learned from the first
Cycle. All four cells are being scanned by the binocular microscope as well as
the compound microscope to capture more of the smaller particle tracks. More
keystones, quickstones and mircrotomes slides are being made to supply the eagerly
awaiting analysts around the world. We have also taken a sample from the largest
capture tract without removing the cell from the Wild 2 tray, to provide
definitive proof that the largest particles are from Wild 2 and
are not secondary debris.