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MSRAL 2006 Convention

September Regular Meeting at SLAS
A Close-up View of a Comet - Analyzing STARDUST Cometary Samples in the Laboratory

Dr. Frank Stadermann
Physics Department
Washington University

On January 15th of this year, NASA’s STARDUST mission brought back samples from comet Wild 2. These are the first astronomical rock samples from a specific body in our solar system since the Apollo lunar missions more than 30 years ago. We can now perform direct laboratory measurements on samples who originated at the outer rim of the solar system. Researchers from Washington University have been involved in many aspects of this mission and are now among the first to get their hands on these exciting extraterrestrial samples. This talk will provide an overview of the mission, the successful return of its sample collector and the ongoing microanalytical studies.


Frank J. Stadermann

Dr. Stadermann received his PhD in Physics from the University of Heidelberg in 1991 for isotopic studies of interplanetary dust particles. Since 1996 he works in the Laboratory for Space Sciences at Washington University’s Physics Department. His research focuses on the microanalytical characterization of the elemental, isotopic and mineralogical compositions of extraterrestrial samples, such as meteorites, Antarctic micrometeorites, interplanetary dust particles, and presolar grains. The preserved compositional ‘memories’ of these samples give clues about stellar evolution and solar system history. He is a sample advisor to NASA’s STARDUST mission and is involved in the preliminary analysis of the returned cometary material.




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