Stardust returns from Comet tonight: info and viewing tips

in AppleOutsider edited January 2014
So the Stardust mission to collect particles from the tail and coma of Comet Wild-2 is set for it's triumphant return to Earth tomorrow... after a 2.88 billion mile round trip... hopefully with less impact than it's cousin, Genesis, which collected solar wind then slammed into the desert after parachute sensor failure.

AN members in certain parts of the US West Coast have a shot at watching the reentry live Sunday morning at 1:56:39 a.m. PST (weather permitting). You may get the sonic boom as a tip off, but the capsule will probably be long gone by then... 12.8 km/second is record reentry speed.


If you live in the Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Northern Nevada, Southern Idaho or Western Utah you should be able to see some part of this man made meteor. The closer you live to the trajectory, which runs from Crescent City, to Mt Shasta, Cal and then through Winnemucca and Elko Nev, and finally to Western Utah, the higher in the sky it will be.

NASA is also requesting footage from anybody who can grab some. Final destination of the capsule is a military range in Utah.

Paging Midwinter and our Utah members...

Tips on capturing video can be found on the same page as the reentry map. Click pic below.

Details of the probable reentry can be found here

Assuming a safe return of the capsule and it's aerogel payload full of cometary particles, everybody has a shot at helping do science (with the bonus that you might get to name any particles you help discover) via a distributed network project.

Berkeley has a [email protected] project. NASA Press release calls for volunteers to analyse comet dust

There's also plenty of info on Aerogel and other details about the project at the various links above.

I'd love to help watch, but am sadly on the wrong side of the planet at the moment.

I did just watch the ISS go over in between looks at the Full Moon, Mars, and Saturn though.

Clear seeing here in UK tonight. Hope you get similarly stellar conditions.
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