JSC curates a variety of spacecraft and spacecraft components that have been impacted by natural and man-made microparticulates. These include the Genesis and Stardust sample return capsules and pieces of Surveyor III, the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF), the Solar Maximum satellite, the European Recoverable Carrier (EuReCa), the MIR space station and the Hubble Space Telescope. All of these materials have thus been preserved for scientific investigations.
Stardust sample return capsule after landing.
The collection of impact-preserving materials curated at JSC sample particulates captured as micro-impacts in unique environments including the Lunar surface (Surveyor III); the Earth-Sun Lagrangian (L1) point (Genesis), the 7 year journey of Stardust outside of Earth-orbit; and low-Earth orbit (LDEF, the Solar Maximum satellite, MIR, Hubble, and EuReCa).
Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) being retrieved by Space Shuttle after 5.7 years in orbit.
The diversity of the current micro-impact collections offers the opportunity to study a variety of environmental effects, but the focus is on micrometeoroid impacts, which directly sample asteroids, comets and other extraterrestrial bodies.