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Possible comet samples : The NASA Cosmic Dust Program

By U.S. Clanton, J.L. Gooding, D.S. McKay, I.D.R. Mackinnon, A.M. Isaacs, G.A. Nace, E.M. Gabel, J.L. Warren and C.B. Dardano


Beginning in 1974, a limited effort to collect extraterrestrial dust samples from the stratosphere using impactors mounted on NASA U-2 aircraft was initiated at NASA Ames Research Center (1). Subsequent studies (e.g. 1-9) have clearly established an extraterrestrial origin for some of the material. Attrition of comets is considered to be one of the potential sources of extraterrestrial dust(1,5). Additionally, some of the particles appear to represent a type of primitive material not represented in meteorite collections. In order to provide a greater availability of these samples to the scientific community, NASA-Johnson Space Center (JSC) began in May of 1981 a program dedicated to the systematic collection and curation of cosmic dust for scientific investigation. Collections were made at 18 to 20 km altitude by means of collectors mounted under the wings of a WB57F. When the aircraft reaches operating altitude, the collector plates (impactors) are extended into the ambient airstream with the collection surface normal to the airflow. To prevent particles from bouncing off the surface, the impactors are coated with a film of high viscosity silicone oil. The impactors are sealed in canisters to minimize contamination when not collecting

Topics: 040100 ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES, 040302 Extraterrestrial Geology, comet samples, cosmic dust collection, stratospheric dust
Publisher: Lunar and Planetary Institute
Year: 1982
OAI identifier:

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