Subject line: Minor bodies of the Solar System

Responsibility of the mission: NASA

Date of launch: February 7th, 1999

End of mission: March 24th, 2011

 

Description

Stardust is the fourth mission of the NASA Discovery programme, and the first mission whose only focus is on exploring a comet: Wild 2. The mission departed in February 1999 from Cape Canaveral with a Delta II vector rocket and following a four-year journey – during which the probe performed a flyby of the 5535 Annefrank asteroid at a 3300 km distance – on January 2nd, 2004 STARDUST reached the Wild2 Comet.

The mission completed its first cycle of observation and collection of samples in 2006, but it was extended in 2011 with the purpose of studying the Comet Tempel 1, previously observed in the Deep Impact mission. The encounter with the celestial body happened of February 14th, 2011 and the mission ended on March 24th, 2011, when the probe ran out of fuel.

 

Scientific goals

The primary goal of the mission was to collect and analyse samples of carbon dust coming from the comet Wild 2, by using a special material with extremely low density known as aerogel, similar to a big tennis racket.

STARDUST brought back to Earth samples of interstellar dust and fragments of dust coming from outside our Solar System, which are useful to study the evolution of the Sun and the other planets of the Solar System.

‣ News

WEDNESDAY 20 MAY 2020

The Prisma Mission opens to the community ‣

Now that the commissioning phase and the calibration/validation activities have been completed PRISMA is finally ready to open the mission exploitation by the user community. MORE...

THURSDAY 30 APRIL 2020

The Earth’s tides move the continents ‣

Astronomical forces such as solid Earth’s tides play an active role on plate tectonics: this is the results of a research conducted by the Sapienza University of Rome, the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV). MORE...

THURSDAY 16 APRIL 2020

Cheops is ready for hunting ‣

The scientific operations of the space mission Cheops officially started. The mission, with an important Italian participation, explores the Universe to give us an in-depth look at new worlds MORE...

MONDAY 02 SEPTEMBER 2019

IKUNS NanoSatellite, a virtuous example of the Italo-Kenyan Cooperation in the Space sector ‣

The project was presented on August 24th 2019, during an event dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci MORE...

THURSDAY 22 AUGUST 2019

Parmitano starts Nutriss ‣

Nutriss will be the first scientific activity of ASI in orbit for Luca Parmitano, astronaut of the European Space Agency on the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the third of six Italian experiments is ready to take off. MORE...