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Comet Capsule to Produce Light Show

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Quigley_Sharps, Jan 8, 2006.

  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    LOS ANGELES - When a NASA capsule hauling comet and interstellar dust plummets through the Earth's atmosphere this weekend, residents in large sweeps of the West will witness a cosmic spectacle.

    During the Stardust capsule's blazing re-entry at 1:57 a.m. PST Sunday, it will travel at 29,000 mph, making it the fastest man-made object to return to Earth.

    The 100-pound cargo will arc over Northern California toward Utah's Dugway Proving Ground, a remote Army base southwest of Salt Lake City.

    Residents in parts of Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada and Utah should see the Stardust capsule as it streaks across the pre-dawn sky. Prime viewing will be along Nevada's Interstate 80 where residents can view the capsule's front.

    The capsule's glow is expected to shine as bright as Venus for 90 seconds. It will appear brightest over Carlin, a small mining city in northeast Nevada.

    The capsule will likely appear as a bright pink dot to the naked eye. In certain places, those with telescopes may see the capsule pass in front of the moon, appearing as a tiny dot trailed by a dark wave of hot air and debris from its heat shield.

    During the capsule's descent, a team of scientists aboard a NASA DC-8 aircraft will track it and measure its brightness.

    Part of their mission: Determine how well the capsule's heat shield performed during the plunge. The capsule's heat shield is among several protective material being considered by NASA for its new crew exploration vehicle, which is intended to replace the space shuttle.

    After landing, the capsule will be shipped to the Johnson Space Center in Houston where scientists will pry it open and study the microscopic cometary and interstellar samples inside for clues to how the solar system formed.
  2. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Uh...one question.

    How in TARNATION are they gonna steer that puppy? It's like a two hundred thousand mile offset ratio with that much distance to travel without guidance...unless the pod is being controlled in some way? I dunno, I haven't watched NASA TV for a few days...

    Upon entering Earth's atmosphere, the pod will undergo a great deal of turbulence as it descends....this will throw off its trajectory quite a bit.
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