• Deep Impact
    • Deep Impact
       

      The Deep Impact mission sent a probe into the path of comet Tempel 1 with spectacular results, revealing clues about the comet’s internal composition and structure.

       

      Deep Impact

      Bulls-Eye!
      67 seconds after impact

       

      Deep impact

      Ice Patches on Tempel 1
      First ice found on a comet’s surface

       
           
      photo of Mike A’Hearn

       

      Mike A’Hearn Principal Investigator of the Deep Impact and EPOXI missions

      Mike is a professor of astronomy at the University of Maryland. His distinguished career
      includes many contributions to the field of cometary science, including developing observational techniques to study their structure and composition.

      + Reflections on “Bulls-Eye” and more about the Deep Impact Mission (MP3, 3:22 min.)

       


       

       

      photo of Lucy McFadden

      Lucy McFadden Co-Investigator on the Deep Impact, EPOXI, and Dawn missions

      Lucy is a planetary scientist and the chief of Higher Education and University Programs at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Co-Investigator on the Dawn mission to asteroids Vesta and Ceres. Previously, she was a research professor at the University of Maryland. Lucy also directed the Education and Public Outreach programs for Discovery’s Deep Impact, EPOXI and Dawn missions.



      + Reflections on “Bulls-Eye” (MP3, 2:25 min.)
      + Reflections on “Ice Patches on Comet Tempel 1”(MP3, 1:22 min.)

       


       

       

      Tempel 1

      Quiet Before the Storm
      Tempel 1 Five Minutes before Impact

       

      Comet Wild 2

      Incredible Features on the Nucleus
      Comet Wild 2 as viewed by Stardust

       
       
      photo of Don Yeomans

      Don Yeomans Co-investigator on the Deep Impact and EPOXI missions

      Don is a Senior Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and manages NASA's
      Near-Earth Object Program, coordinating efforts to detect, track and characterize potentially
      hazardous asteroids and comets that could approach the Earth.

      + Reflections on “Quiet Before the Storm” (MP3, 2:15 min.)
      + Reflections on “Incredible Features on the Nucleus” (MP3, 1:16 min.)

         

       

       

       

  • Dawn
    • Dawn
       

      Dawn delves into the unknown, drives new technology innovations, and achieves what's never been attempted before. As a mission belonging to NASA's Discovery Program, Dawn has orbited one member of the main asteroid belt, Vesta, and is now heading to explore a second new world, dwarf planet Ceres.

       
      Don Yeomans

      Stacy Weinstein-Weiss Vesta Development Manager, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California


      Stacy led the team that developed the mission design and operations plan during Vesta orbit that successfully achieved Dawn's science objectives.

      + Reflections on first glimpses of Vesta


      Vesta as Captured by Dawn on June 14, 2011

      Vesta from Dawn on July 17, 2011

      Image of Vesta taken on June 11, 2011 by Dawn spacecraft Comet particle tracks in aerogel

      This image of asteroid Vesta was taken from a distance of about 165,000 miles (265,000 km).


      Now we're seeing fascinating details on Vesta, from 9,500 miles (15,000 km).


       

      Tom Prettyman

      Tom Prettyman GRaND team leader and co-investigator of NASA's Dawn mission, Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona


      Tom's Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector (GRaND) instrument team acquired sufficient data to map Vesta's elemental composition.

      + Reflections on three images depicting Vesta’s elemental composition


      Hydrogen Hotspots on Vesta

      Contour Map of Hydrogen on Vesta

      Clast of Carbonaceous Chondrite

      NASA's Dawn mission detected abundances of hydrogen in a wide swath around the equator of the giant asteroid Vesta Contour Map of hydrogen on Vesta Typical clast indicative that carbon-rich meteoroids delivered hydrogen to Vesta's surface

      The hydrogen detected by Dawn's GRaND instrument likely exists in the form of hydrated minerals delivered by carbon-rich space rocks that darkened Vesta's surface.



      NASA's Dawn mission detected abundances of hydrogen in a wide swath around the equator of asteroid Vesta.


      A typical clast is shown in this image, indicative that carbon-rich meteoroids delivered hydrogen to Vesta’s surface.

         

       

       

       

  • Genesis
    • Genesis
       

      The Genesis mission collected pieces of the Sun, called solar wind, and returned them to Earth, to find out what
      the Sun is composed of and if the planets are made of the same materials.

       

      photo of Peter Doukas and Karen McNamara

      Picking Up the Pieces
      Peter Doukas and Karen McNamara collect pieces from the dirt.

       
      a wafer fragment

      One of 15,000 Fragments
      Eileen Stansbury inspects a wafer fragment from the debris pile.

       

      Science data

      Analyzing Samples
      Science data was extracted from samples less than 1 mm in size.

       
           
      photo of Don Burnett

       

      Don Burnett Principal Investigator of the Genesis mission

      Don is an Emeritus Professor of Nuclear Geochemistry at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include problems of nucleosynthesis, elemental abundances and chemical evolution of solar system; meteorite and lunar sample analyses.

      + Reflections on “Picking Up the Pieces” and Genesis mission science objectives (MP3, 2:10 min.)
      + Reflections on “One of 15,000 Fragments”(MP3, 1:11min.)
      + Reflections on “Analyzing Samples” (MP3, 1:42 min.)

       


       

       

      photo of Don Burnett

      Happiness is an Unbroken Wafer
      Don Burnett displays an unbroken wafer that is 100% intact!

       

      The Lockheed team

      Anticipating Touchdown
      The Lockheed team watches remotely as the sample return capsule appears on their screen.

       
       
       
      photo of Don Sweetnam

       

      Don Sweetnam Project Manager for the Genesis mission

      Don’s roles on Genesis at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory include managing the planning,
      control, analysis and recovery team prior to launch, leading the flight team that operated
      the spacecraft after launch, and finally assuming overall responsibility for the project.

      + Reflections on “Happiness is an Unbroken Wafer” and Genesis mission findings (MP3, 1:34 min.)
      + Reflections on “Anticipating Touchdown” (MP3, 1:29 min.)

       


       

      photo of Don Burnett

      Examining Fragments
      In the Utah cleanroom, Don Burnett pulls small fragments from the debris.

       

      Steady Hands Lift Concentrator Target

      Steady Hands Lift Concentrator Target
      At JSC, Juan Baldanado lifts a silicon-carbide sample from the concentrator target.

       
       
      photo of Judy Allton Genesis

      Judy Allton Genesis Solar Wind Curator at the Astromaterials Acquisition & Curation Office


      Judy leads the cataloguing, documenting, dissemination, and laboratory operations for Genesis samples at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas.


      + Reflections on “Examining Fragments” and more about the Genesis mission (MP3, 5:48 min.)
      + Reflections on “Steady Hands” and surprises in the Genesis mission (MP3, 2:14 min.)

         
  • Stardust
    • Stardust
       

      The Stardust spacecraft captured thousands of dust particles from the coma of comet Wild 2 and returned them to Earth for analysis by scientists worldwide.

       

      photo of Peter Doukas and Karen McNamara

      Comet Particle Tracks in Aerogel
      Analysis of material in the bulbs suggests organic materials in the samples.

       
      a wafer fragment

      The Surface of Comet Wild 2
      Surprising large features include two that look like imprints of a left and right foot.

       

      Science data

      Ejecta in Aerogel
      Comet dust leaves an impact crater in the foil frame and ejecta in the aerogel.

       
           
      photo of Don Burnett

       

      Don Brownlee Principal Investigator of the Stardust mission

      Don is a professor of astronomy at the University of Washington. His primary research interests include the origin and evolution of planetary materials, planets and planetary systems. He studies primitive materials from comets, asteroids and meteorites.

      + Reflections on “Comet Particle Tracks in Aerogel” (MP3, 1:57 min.)
      + Reflections on “The Surface of Comet Wild 2” (MP3, 1:59 min.)
      + Reflections on “Ejecta in Aerogel” (MP3, 4:19 min.)

       


       

       

      photo of Peter Doukas and Karen McNamara

      Comet Particle Tracks in Aerogel
      Analysis reveals a mix of fragile, fine-grained volatiles and hard crystal materials.

       
      a wafer fragment

      Extracted Comet Dust Particle
      Tiny particles are sliced thinly to allow electron beams to penetrate for analysis.

       

      Science data

      Meeting Dr. Stephen Hawking
      Keiko and colleagues with Professor Hawking in the Stardust clean room.

       
       
      photo of Don Sweetnam

       

      Keiko Nakamura-Messenger Stardust science team member

      Keiko is a space scientist at NASA's Johnson Space Center. She headed a team that discovered a new manganese silicide mineral in cosmic dust and named it Brownleeite, to honor Don Brownlee, who revolutionized research on interplanetary dust entering Earth's atmosphere.

      + Reflections on “Comet Particle Tracks in Aerogel” (MP3, 2:22 min.)
      + Reflections on “Extracted Comet Dust Particle” (MP3, 2:44 min.)
      + Reflections on “Meeting Dr. Hawking” (MP3, 3:36 min.)

       


       

      photo of Don Burnett

      Analyzing Cometary Samples
      A researcher examines comet dust under a stereo microscope, one of many analysis methods.

       

      Steady Hands Lift Concentrator Target

      Unlocking Comet Mysteries
      Close-up views of
      Tempel 1 (left) and Wild 2 (right).

       
       
      photo of Judy Allton Genesis

      Don Yeomans Comet researcher

      Don is a Senior Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and manages NASA's Near-Earth Object Program, coordinating efforts to detect, track and characterize potentially hazardous asteroids and comets that could approach the Earth.

      + Reflections on “Analyzing Comet Samples," finding glycine in Wild 2, and more about asteroids & comets (MP3, 1:13 min.)

      + Reflections on “Unlocking Comet Mysteries” and future comet missions
      (MP3, 2:53 min.)

         


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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