AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 67 Reaching Out with Observatories, Planeteria and Activities
Poster, Tuesday, 9:20am-6:30pm, January 10, 2006, Exhibit Hall

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[67.12] Stardust@home: Enlisting Students and the Public in the Search for Interstellar Dust

B.M. Mendez, N. Craig, A.J. Westphal (UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory)

In January 2006, NASA’s Stardust mission returns to Earth after nearly seven years in interplanetary space. During its journey, Stardust encountered comet Wild 2, collecting dust particles from it in a special material called aerogel. At two other times in the mission, aerogel collectors were also opened to collect interstellar dust. By studying this dust, we hope to learn about the origins of the Solar System. When Stardust returns, the aerogel collectors exposed to the interstellar dust will be scanned by an automated microscope. There will be approximately 1.6 million fields of view, but perhaps only a few dozen total grains of interstellar dust in the entire collector. Finding the particles is a daunting task. We are recruiting the public in the search for these precious pieces of space dust trapped in the collectors. We call the project Stardust@home. Through Stardust@home, volunteers will search fields of view from the Stardust aerogel collector using a web-based "Virtual Microscope." Volunteers who discover interstellar dust particles will have the privilege of naming them. We are also creating a teacher’s lesson guide about the origins of the Solar System that uses the Stardust@home Virtual Microscope, and are conducting training workshops for it. We are creating a section of the Stardust@home website to educate the public about the science of the project and in addition, we will provide lectures, tours, workshops, etc. about Stardust and Stardust@home for students, after school groups, and the public to widely disseminate the project.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://stardustathome.ssl.berkeley.edu. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

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