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Home Cosmic DustSample CatalogsCatalog Vol. 24,1Introduction

Cosmic Dust Catalog Volume 24,1


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 U2170, U2172 and W7011. These surfaces were flat plate collectors which were coated with silicone oil (dimethyl siloxane) and then flown aboard NASA ER-2 and WB57 aircraft during a series of flights as follows:

U2170 August 31, 2016-September 22, 2016. Transit from Georgia to Recife, Brazil. Transit from Brazil to Namibia. First science flight off west coast of Africa-RTB early due to coolant pump problem. 53.92 hours. ER2
U2172 August 20, 2018. Flight path over the ocean from appx. Monterey to @400 miles off the coast of Washington and back. Open 18:37Z, Closed 22:51Z. Flight time a little over 4 hours. ER2
W7011 May 1, 1981-July 1, 1981; 67 hours; WB57

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.