Update: 13 May 2009 - What are we up to?

Stardust@home project news.

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Stardust@home Team
Stardust@home Team
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Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:28 am
Location: UC Berkeley Space Sciences Lab

Update: 13 May 2009 - What are we up to?

Post by bmendez »

Hi Everyone,

It has been some time since I gave you all a status on the Stardust@home search and team.

There were some big events for the team:
-On December 13th, 2008 Dr. Anna Butterworth and her husband, Matt Paul, welcomed their second child into the world, a bouncing baby boy. She took a maternity leave and returned to the Space Science Lab in March.
-Feb 2009, We welcomed Dan Zevin to our group. Dan joined the Center for Science Education here at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Lab and is helping me out with Stardust@home. A senior colleague in our education group recently retired and I have taken on managing several of her projects. So it is wonderful to have Dan with us.

In the Stardust@home science:
-We've done some x-ray spectroscopy analysis of interstellar stardust candidates that were extracted from the collector. The only conclusive results were for candidates that were clearly not interstellar particles. Some of the other results were less conclusive. You can learn more about these in the slide show presentations that the project director, Dr. Andrew Westphal, has been creating.
-We've also done some more theoretical analysis on the expected number of particles collected by Stardust in the collector and the possible range in sizes and impact angles. This analysis combined with further test firings of micro particles into aerogel has led us to think that fewer than the ~50 particles may have been captured at a wider range of impact angles than we originally expected. This makes the contributions of you dusters all the more critical to the success of this project.

For the future:
We are still planning on a Phase 3 search of the rest of the collector, but we cannot say with any certainty when that will start. It depends on many factors, several of which are beyond our control.

The Cosmic Dust Lab at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX will reopen to Stardust@home work in May, and our focus will be on extracting candidate particles discovered during Phases 1 and 2. We will scan the collector as we have time, but we operate under difficult constraints. For example, we cannot leave the tray out over the weekend. Also we can't scan at the same time that we're doing extractions. So how much we will get scanned in the next several months depends on the schedule of the curatorial facility, which is something that we have no control over.

We will endeavor to keep you informed of the goings on here at Berkeley on a more regular basis.

"I am made from the dust of the stars, and the oceans flow in my veins"
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