By Don Wegel, as told to Flora Lichtman
Posted 03.23.2012 at 3:50 pm 11 Comments
How do you get a core sample from a comet? There’s so little gravity that if you used a scoop or a drill, you’d push yourself right off the surface. To solve this problem, we came up with a harpoon that collects samples. The concept is that the spacecraft flies next to the moving comet and fires from about 30 feet away, we would use a dampening system and propulsion to counteract the recoil. Our prototype harpoon is stainless steel, about one foot long, two inches wide and four pounds.
A pair of professional astronomers resolved the orbit of a bright comet using photos shot by their amateur counterparts. The research shows it’s possible to mine Internet photo-sharing sites for science — even if the astrophotographers didn’t know they were taking part in a crowdsourcing experiment.
The Deep Impact probe, part of NASA's EPOXI mission, has successfully returned never-before-seen images of the comet Hartley 2 as it flew near Earth this morning, only the fifth comet nucleus ever visited by a spacecraft.
Less than half an hour after the probe reached its closest distance from the comet, about 435 miles away, a series of images completed the 23-million-mile trip from EPOXI’s spacecraft to computer screens in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
A spacecraft delivers rare samples of extraterrestrial dust to Earth. Now scientists need your help to study it
By Dawn Stover
Posted 03.14.2006 at 3:00 am 0 Comments
"We believe we have the Holy Grail," says Don Brownlee, the lead scientist for NASA's Stardust mission, in which a robotic spacecraft traveled nearly three billion miles to capture interstellar dust and comet particles and then flew back to Earth in a seven-year round-trip voyage. The touch-down this January in the Utah desert marked the first successful return of extraterrestrial material since 1976, when an unmanned Soviet probe last brought home moon rocks.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.