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Mission Websites

Here we list links to the primary mission website as well as pages about the mission on other sites such as the NSSDC, NASA portal, etc.

Stardust Mission

Stardust, the fourth mission in NASA's Discovery Program, is the first mission to successfully bring cometary material back to Earth for analysis. Stardust collected cometary and interstellar dust with the use of Aerogel, a silicon-based solid with unique properties which allowed high-speed capture of particles with minimal impact damage. After the comet flyby, the Aerogel collector was stowed in the Sample Return Capsule (SCR) on board the spacecraft for return to Earth. The mission also included comet imaging and in situ studies of the dust in the coma.

Stardust was launched on 7 Feb 1999 on course to encounter comet 81P/Wild 2 in 2004. On the way, the spacecraft used one side of the Aerogel collector to capture interstellar dust twice, from 22 Feb to 1 May 2000 and from Jul to Dec 2002. During the second collection period, Stardust also imaged asteroid (5535) Annefrank and flew past it on 1 Nov 2002 at a range of 3100 km.

On 2 Jan 2004, Stardust flew through the coma of comet 81P/Wild 2 and came within 240 km of the nucleus, using the other side of the Aerogel collector to capture cometary particles. Instruments on board the spacecraft measured dust particles in the coma and took images of the nucleus. The SCR was successfully returned to Earth on 15 Jan 2006. The Stardust spacecraft was placed into hibernation on 29 Jan 2006.

The Stardust Sample Return Catalog archives and provides information about the comet and interstellar dust particles returned by the mission.

SBN is the PDS lead node to archive the data related to the Stardust mission; activities are supported by the Imaging Node and Navigation and Ancillary Information Facility.

Instruments

Data Sets

Other Mission Data

Notes

  1. Possibly as a result of outgassing from the spacecraft, Stardust's Navigation Camera (NAVCAM) was contaminated by particulates deposited on the optics, thus seriously degrading the image quality in the initial observations returned by that instrument. Users should note that these data, available below, have been judged to be beyond recovery by internal and external reviewers. Fortunately, various thermal cleaning efforts brought the camera back to nearly its original performance for subsequent observations.
  2. The DFMI instrument experienced intermittent problems during the initial phases of the mission and thus was not operated during cruise phases except for testing. However, the instrument appeared to function well during encounter.

Ground-based Support Observations

Related Datasets

Use the Small Bodies Data Ferret to find other datasets for this mission/target.