Managers and scientists leading the team preparing the Stardust spacecraft to gather samples of icy comet dust and return them to Earth will conduct a media briefing on the mission and its science goals on Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 2 p.m. EST, 11 a.m. PST. The televised briefing will originate from NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC.
Set for launch from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Fla., on Feb. 6, 1999, Stardust will be the first U.S. mission dedicated solely to a comet and the first return of extraterrestrial material from outside the orbit of the moon.
The primary goal of this Discovery Program mission is to collect comet dust and related measurements during a planned close encounter with comet Wild 2 (pronounced Vilt-2) in January 2004.
Additionally, the Stardust spacecraft will bring back samples of interstellar dust particles, material recently discovered streaming into the solar system. Analysis of these samples after their return in January 2006 should yield important insights into the evolution of the sun and planets, and possibly into the origin of life itself.
Presenters at the briefing are scheduled to include:
? Donald Brownlee, Stardust principal investigator from the University of Washington, Seattle
? Carl Pilcher, science director for solar system exploration at NASA Headquarters
? Kenneth Atkins, Stardust project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif.
? Joseph Vellinga, Stardust program manager at Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, Colo.
? John Rummel, Planetary Protection Officer, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
Extensive information on Stardust, including mission-related art and images, and a public signature disk attached to the spacecraft, is available on the Internet at http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/
NASA Television is located on GE-2, transponder 9C at 85 degrees West longitude, vertical polarization, with a frequency of 3880 Mhz, and audio of 6.8 Mhz. There will be two-way question-and-answer capability for media at participating NASA centers.
OTHER MEDIA CONTACTS:
Douglas Isbell/Donald Savage
Mary Beth Murrill
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
For UW Stardust updates, visit http://www.washington.edu/newsroom/stardust/stardust.html