Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UK scientists all set for New Year encounter with a comet

17.12.2003


On January 2nd 2004 the NASA space mission, STARDUST, will fly through comet Wild 2, capturing interstellar particles and dust and returning them to Earth in 2006. Space scientists from the Open University and University of Kent have developed one of the instruments which will help tell us more about comets and the evolution of our own solar system and, critical for STARDUST, its survival in the close fly-by of the comet.



Launched in February 1999, STARDUST is the first mission designed to bring samples back from a known comet. The study of comets provides a window into the past as they are the best preserved raw materials in the Solar System. The cometary and interstellar dust samples collected will help provide answers to fundamental questions about the origins of the solar system.

Scientists from the Open University and University of Kent have developed one set of sensors for the Dust Flux Monitor Instrument (DFMI) built by the University of Chicago, and the software to analyse the data. The DFMI, part funded by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) will record the distribution and sizes of particles on its journey through the centre, or coma, of the comet.


Professor Tony McDonnell and Dr Simon Green from the Open Universitys Planetary and Space Science Research Institute (PSSRI), will be at the mission command centre, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, when the encounter with Wild 2 begins.

Dr Green explains By combining the information about each of the tiny grains of dust captured by STARDUST we will discover more about the formation of stars, planets and our solar system.

Professor Tony McDonnell said The information derived from the signals will tell us on the night if the dust shield has been critically punctured.

Cometary particles will be captured on a tennis racket like grid which contains a substance called aerogel the lightest solid in the Universe! This is a porous material that allows the particles to become embedded with minimum damage. This means that on their return to Earth they will be as near as possible to their original state.

Once the samples are captured a clam-like shell closes around them. The capsule then returns to Earth in January 2006 where it will land at the US Air Force Utah Test and Training Range. Once collected, the samples will be taken to the planetary material curatorial facility at NASAs Johnson Space Centre, Houston, where they will be carefully stored and examined.

The Open University team hope to be involved in analysing the samples that return to Earth in January 2006.

UK scientists, including a team from the Open University, are also involved with the European Space Agencys Rosetta Mission which will follow and land on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This mission is due to be launched on 26th February 2004.

Gill Ormrod | PPARC
Further information:
http://www.pparc.ac.uk/Nw/stardust.asp

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy
24.03.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

nachricht Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>