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Home Cosmic DustSample CatalogsCatalog Vol. 20,1Introduction

Cosmic Dust Catalog Volume 20,1


Since May 1981, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has used aircraft to collect cosmic dust (CD) particles from Earth's stratosphere. Specially designed dust collectors are prepared for flight and processed after flight in an ultraclean (Class-100) laboratory constructed for this purpose at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas. Particles are individually retrieved from the collectors, examined and cataloged, and then made available to the scientific community for research. Cosmic dust thereby joins lunar samples and meteorites as an additional source of extraterrestrial materials for scientific study.

This catalog summarizes preliminary observations on particles retrieved from collection surfaces U2153, U2157, U2158, U2159, U2162, and U2163. These surfaces were flat plate collectors which were coated with silicone oil (dimethyl siloxane) and then flown aboard NASA ER-2 aircraft during a series of flights as follows:

U2153 15.1 hours of flight time on October 15 and 17, 2012, during the Draconid Showers
U2157, U2158 and U2159 23.2 hours of flight time over California during October 15, 2012 to October 17, 2012
U2162 and U2163 40 hours of flight time during July 10, 2014 to August 1, 2014

All of the collectors were installed in specially constructed wing pylons which ensured that the necessary level of cleanliness was maintained between periods of active sampling. During successive periods of high altitude (20 km) cruise, the collectors were exposed in the stratosphere by barometric controls and then retracted into sealed storage containers prior to descent.