Stardust Comet Sample Return Mission

[Stardust spacecraft]

Launch: 7 February 1999, 21:04:15 UT (4:04:15 p.m. EST)
Comet Rendezvous: 2 January 2004
Return to Earth: 15 January 2006

The Stardust mission was chosen from a group of 3 contenders as the fourth Discovery class mission. (See the NASA Press Release for more details.) The Stardust mission is designed for a rendezvous with the active comet P/Wild 2, where it will collect material surrounding the comet. Passive aerogel collectors will be used to trap the samples of coma and interstellar dust. This material will provide our first sample of pristine cometary material, and increase our understanding of interstellar dust. Stardust will then return to Earth with these samples for scientific study. The mission will also analyze the cometary coma in situ, examine the composition of the samples in-flight using a mass spectrometer, and take images of the comet.

More information on the Stardust mission

Stardust Status Report
Detailed information on the Stardust mission - from the NSSDCA Master Catalog
Stardust Project Home Page
Comets and Asteroids Page
Comet Fact Sheet - including information on P/Wild 2

Stardust Spacecraft Encounters Solar Flare - 21 November 2000
Stardust Prelaunch Science Briefing - 13 January 1999
Stardust Press Release - announcing the selection of the mission.
Stardust, Suess-Urey, and Venus Multi-Probe - the 3 missions originally under consideration.

Other Past, Current, and Future Planetary Missions
Upcoming Planetary Events and Missions
NSSDCA Planetary Science Home Page

Dr. David R. Williams,
NSSDCA, Mail Code 690.1
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771

NASA Official: Dr. David R. Williams,
Last Updated: 06 January 2005, DRW