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A News Conference and a Launch

This is shaping up to be a busy day, starting with good news from the Stardust mission. Having opened the sample return capsule at Johnson Space Center in Houston, the science team found that the sample tray held numerous particles captured not only from comet Wild 2 but interstellar particles collected during the missions’ seven year journey. Stardust principal investigator Donald Brownlee said it all: “The collection of cometary particles has exceeded our expectations. We were absolutely thrilled to see thousands of impacts on the aerogel.”

Coming up at 1100 EST (1600 GMT) is a news conference held by Stardust team members in Houston, with coverage on NASA TV (and I notice that NASA will offer video of the opening of the Stardust cannister at 1500 EST today). Also imminent is another attempt to launch New Horizons, now scheduled for 1308 EST (1808 GMT), and available both through NASA TV and useful pages like the ELV Countdown Portal at Kennedy Space Center. The New Horizons launch page also links to webcams and other information sources.