At noon CDT on Thursday September 11, JSC was completely shut down in preperation for Hurricane Ike. The massive category two hurricane will likely make a direct hit near Galveston, TX, and, although the exact location is yet uncertain, the large diameter of Ike’s eye means that the eyewall will likely pass directly over JSC. The worst case scenario, predicted by sophisticated computer models, shows that JSC could be subjected to a 15-22 ft. storm surge. Heavy rains could add to the flooding.
That morning, all samples that are stored and processed at JSC were tightly secured. The Stardust Interstellar tray was covered in its aluminum casing and placed in its own cabinet. This cabinet was placed on a cart alongside the cometary collector and all the cometary keystones and tiles in JSC’s inventory. The cart was wheeled down the hall and placed in a vault with the Genesis, cosmic dust, and most precious meteorite samples, each sealed separately in their own nitrogen-purged cabinets. Rest assured, all samples in this vault will remain completely sealed off, and on the second floor at 48 ft., they will remain safe at over 20 ft. above the worst case storm surge.
On the other hand, JSC will likely lose power at some point during the storm, and if the worst case is realized, some of the first floor laboratories and offices may be flooded. But we hope to be able to return to business as usual at JSC next week!