Stardust@Home Project News

News and project updates which haven't been added to distributedcomputing.info yet.

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Postby Jwb52z » Sun Dec 03, 2006 3:41 am

bmendez
Stardust@home Team

Posted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 3:39 pm
Post subject: Update: 1 Dec 06 - Getting a Better Look at the Collector

Recently, Ron Bastien and Jack Warren at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) acquired about 600 high-resolution focus movies of candidate extraterrestrial tracks in the Stardust Interstellar Dust Collector, identified by our Stardust@home collaborators. Each movie is larger than 100 Megabytes! We are now going through these movies at Berkeley. We are finding that this is helpful, and we have made a new discovery: an apparent "swarm" of tracks that enter the collector nearly parallel to the surface. This is probably due to an impact somewhere on the collector. We will be tracking this down in the coming weeks.

The next big step will be rescanning these movies using transmitted illumination. We expect a critical test on the flight-spare collector to be done at JSC in the next few days. If successful, this will enable us to change from reflected light (the worst possible illumination method) to transmitted light. The transmitted light has already been reinstalled in the microscope, but we have to confirm that we can reliably and safely fold back the foils holding the aerogel tiles in place.

Stay tuned!
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Postby Jwb52z » Fri Dec 08, 2006 12:37 pm

bmendez
Stardust@home Team

Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2006 1:27 pm
Post subject: Update: 7 Dec 06 - Foil tests at JSC and Comet Dust Results

The foil unfolding test at JSC is complete, and the analysis is underway. The point of this test was to find out if unfolding the aluminum foils wrapping the backs of the aerogel tiles would tilt or distort the aerogel significantly. If it does this could be a problem, since we rely on the stability of the aerogel tiles to be able to reconstruct trajectories, and thus distinguish betwen interstellar dust and interplanetary dust. We want to unfold the foils so that we can examine and image the tiles using transmitted illumination (light from below the tile) rather than reflected illumination (light through the microscope objective lens). We know from previous experience that transmitted illumination is vastly better than reflected, but we've been prevented from using it on the Stardust Interstellar collectors because of these aluminum foils.

This test was done on the flight spare tray by first making a focus map (a measurement of the altitude of the aerogel tile at about 200 points on a grid) before unfolding the foil, then doing it again after. We are cautiously optimistic that the tilting and distortion of the aerogel were minimal. We'll let you know.

Also, after nearly a year of intense effort on the part of nearly 200 scientists around the world, the first reports on the analysis of the cometary dust collected by Stardust (the other Stardust mission!) are coming out next week in Science magazine. There will be seven papers: a summary of the mission and the exciting discoveries that were made, and six articles by the Preliminary Examination subteams. Each subteam focussed on different kinds of analysis of the samples: mineralogy/petrology, cratering, organics, bulk chemistry, isotopes, and optical and infrared spectroscopy.

The scientists, including us at Berkeley, are now busily preparing longer, specialized papers for a special issue (or two!) of Meteoritics and Planetary Science. We will be posting overviews of the science results here, which can be read by non-specialists after the issue is released.

We thank you sincerely for your patience with Stardust@home during the last few weeks. Although we have been making steady progress, we have just been overwhelmed by the work required for the preparation of the cometary papers. These papers were a contractual obligation to NASA, and so they had to be finished quickly. Now that the papers are going out, we are really looking forward to concentrating on finding the interstellar dust!
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Postby Jwb52z » Sun Dec 24, 2006 11:25 am

Dec 23, 2006

First results from the analysis of cometary dust from Stardust reported in Science

The results from the first analyses of cometary dust collected by Stardust and returned to earth have been reported in the journal Science http://www.sciencemag.org/ , in seven landmark papers. There are nearly 200 co-authors on these papers -- this was a truly massive effort. We at Berkeley have been intensely engaged in this effort, both in preparing samples of cometary dust, http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/rele ... t.shtmlfor distribution to our colleagues around the world, and in analyzing cometary dust at the Advanced Light Source, http://www-als.lbl.gov/ , at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, http://www.lbl.gov/ .
Zack Gainsforth will be summarizing each of the science papers in turn over the next weeks -- the first installment, http://stardustathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/ ... php?t=1568 , on the so-called "bulk chemistry" paper, has been posted on the forum.
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Postby Jwb52z » Sat Jun 09, 2007 9:22 pm

http://stardustathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/ ... php?t=1826

I didn't post the full text this time because there are photographs with the text explaining things. The project is on its way to being able to extract the keystones to analyze the possible IDPs.
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Postby Jwb52z » Thu Jul 19, 2007 9:56 pm

July 19, 2007

Site Offline

The entire Space Sciences Lab will have an electrical shutdown, this weekend. Therefor Stardust@home will be offline from Friday July 21st 3pm to Monday July 23rd 9am Pacific Time.

Sorry for the inconvenience
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Postby Jwb52z » Wed Jul 25, 2007 8:40 pm

We are announcing the beginning of an exciting second phase of the Stardust@home search. The Stardust@home volunteers have been incredibly successful at finding small, subtle features. We are now doubling the resolution of the focus movies. A whole new cosmic dust hunt will be on!

After 11 months of diligent searching by thousands of volunteers we have identified several dozen candidate interstellar dust particles. We emphasize that at this time these are still only candidates; some, all, or none of these may be interstellar dust particles. We are carrying out a careful process of extracting these candidate particles at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. The pace of this process is slow and careful because this is an absolutely unique, practically irreplaceable set of samples. We must do it right the first time.

We halted the scanning of the Stardust interstellar dust tray in Houston a couple of months ago, with about one-third of the tray scanned. We did this so that the lab where the interstellar dust tray is being scanned, the so-called “Cosmic Dust Lab” at Johnson Space Center, could be used for its other purpose of processing requests for Cosmic Dust Particles. We are using this temporary hold up in scanning as an opportunity to install and test new hardware on the microscope that will enable us to extract candidates from the aerogel for analysis.

Many of the candidate tracks discovered by the dusters are incredibly subtle; much more subtle than we had originally expected ("expect the unexpected"). Yet, the Stardust@home volunteers have proved to be incredibly sensitive to detecting them. We suspect that there might be many more subtle features in the full resolution data waiting to be discovered.

The focus movies that dusters have been scanning using the Virtual Microscope (VM) during this past first phase of Stardust@home are highly compressed because of bandwidth limitations. But the original scan data were taken at much higher resolution. We cannot send the original data out on the VM because of their large size (each full resolution focus movie is about 30Mb). So, we are bringing the full-resolution movie data out of the archives, dividing each into four separate fields of view, compressing these for searching on the VM, and uploading these movies to Amazon S3, which is hosting the Stardust@home images. This processing essentially doubles the magnification and the spatial resolution. The images will look different than they did before because we are now approaching the resolution limit (the “diffraction limit”) of the microscope.

In Stardust@home Phase 2, the VM will display high resolution scans from the first third of the collector tray and new low resolution scans (rescans or fixes of corrupted data). The scale bar in the VM will indicate whether it is displaying high or lower resolution movies. The original lower resolution movies will be retired and archived. There will be new calibration movies, new tutorial movies, and pages displaying the candidates found in both Phases 1 and 2 for reference. The scores, rankings and candidate lists from Phase 1 will be frozen, preserved, and displayed on the Website. We will give all the volunteers a fresh start and invite new volunteers to continue to join the search. For Phase 2, everyone will begin with a clean slate for score and ranking and an equal chance at discovering yet more candidate stardust tracks.

The Phase 2 calibration movies will be much more challenging than those of Phase 1, because they are made using one of the more subtle actual candidate tracks. So, don't expect Phase 2 to be the same old data and the same old search. You will probably have lower sensitivity and specificity scores than you had in Phase 1. We are doing this on purpose. We were amazed at how good the dusters have been during Phase 1 at finding even the smallest calibration tracks, but it meant that we could not really determine our detection threshold. Now some calibration tracks really will be almost invisible!

Before we can launch Phase 2 we will need to disable the VM for up to 2 weeks while we transfer new databases and put the new VM code in place. Our plan is to close down the VM within a window between July 26-Aug 9. The forums and the rest of the website will remain open during the transition.

One other thing that we will be doing during the shutdown is correcting some people’s Phase 1 scores. Some dusters told us on the forum about scoring problems that resulted people’s scores being slightly lower than they should have been. We will be correcting this problem. Please do not expect a big increase in your Phase 1 score, however.

We thank you all for your amazing contributions to Stardust@home, and we look forward to the next phase of this historic project. Your talent and dedication to this project have been truly impressive. We couldn’t do it without you!

-The Stardust@home Team
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Postby Jwb52z » Sat Jul 28, 2007 4:39 am

The move to Stardust@home Phase 2 is about to begin! We need to finish a few more tasks before we disable the VM, effectively bringing Phase 1 to a close. So we will be leaving the VM active through the weekend. We plan to disable the VM as well as testing and registration at 10:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time on Monday, July 30th.

The rest of the Stardust@home website, including the forum, will remain online during the transition to Phase 2. During the down time some parts of the website may experience sporadic periods of unavailability, but they should not last long. We estimate that we will be ready to launch Phase 2 within roughly two weeks time following the close of Phase 1.

We are excited about this second Phase of the project and extend our greatest thanks to everyone who has participated thus far.

-The Stardust@home Team
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Postby Jwb52z » Tue Aug 14, 2007 5:44 pm

Today, August 10th, marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in the story of Stardust@home. With the launch of the new and improved Stardust@home Phase 2 volunteers ("dusters") will be able to search for interstellar dust particles at an unprecedented level of sensitivity. Even the subtlest tracks and particles, which may have eluded detection in the first phase of the project, now stand an excellent chance of being found out and investigated by ever-vigilant dusters.

The new search will proceed much like Phase 1. The Virtual Microscope (VM) displays stacks of images (focus movies) of microscope scans of the Stardust Interstellar Dust Aerogel Collector, and dusters determine if they see a track, no track, or if the movie has bad focus. But now some of the Phase 2 focus movies are twice the magnification of the Phase 1 movies.


Phase 2 will be much more challenging. During Phase 1, dusters proved that they could find amazingly subtle features in the collector, so the calibration movies that we use to measure efficiency will have much more subtle features in them. Expect it to be more difficult to achieve high scores, and for your sensitivity and specificity to be lower than in Phase 1. This is on purpose, http://stardustathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/ ... php?t=1858 .

Phase 1 dusters should review our new Tutorial pages, http://stardustathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/ ... _start.php , and also review the current list of candidate particle tracks, http://stardustathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/ ... esnews.php .

For all dusters who participated in Phase 1 you can still view your Phase 1 events from your My Events, http://stardustathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/myevents.php , page, and see a listing of all those who had achieved a rank in the top 100 during Phase 1, http://stardustathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/c_rankings.php .

For all communications with fellow dusters and the Stardust@home Team please use the Stardust@home Bulletin Board http://stardustathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/forum/index.php .

We are extremely grateful for your contributions to this project and are excited to begin this new phase.
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Postby Jwb52z » Fri Sep 14, 2007 10:14 pm

September 12, 2007

Update from The Planetary Society


A story from the Planetary Society about Stardust@home, http://www.planetary.org/programs/proje ... hase2.html , Phase 2.
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Postby Jwb52z » Sun Sep 23, 2007 2:41 am

September 21, 2007

New Blog!!

We have added a new feature to our website in the news section, a blog. Through the blog you will be able to find out what is happening behind the scenes of Stardust@home directly from the team members themselves. Our first blog entry is from the project director, Andrew Westphal. You need to be logged in to read the blog and all questions or comments you have about anything in the blog should be directed to the forums. http://stardustathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/blog.php
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Postby Jwb52z » Thu Oct 11, 2007 8:56 pm

October 10, 2007

Update from The Planetary Society

A story from the Planetary Society about Picokeystones. http://www.planetary.org/programs/proje ... tones.html
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Postby Jwb52z » Sun May 25, 2008 4:28 pm

Friday, May 23, 2008

Extraction Update

Here is an update on where we are on extractions.
We were extracting in Houston the week before last, and progress was very slow–we had to abort two overnight extractions because of problems with the needle wandering and in both cases endangering the targets. This was mysterious behavior, and we were quite puzzled about it. We only just understood the cause of this on Thursday–it is because of large temperature varations (around 10 degrees F) in the Cosmic Dust Lab. This causes differential contraction in the extraction equipment–we don't know yet whether it is in the micromanipulator, the long arm, the arm holder, or a combination–but it is just not acceptable to put the samples at risk. The temperature variations are new, without a doubt, but we didn't know whether this is because it is become summer in Houston or because of some failure in the laboratory temperature control, or something else entirely. We found out this week that it was the "something else entirely": it was a combination of a failure of the steam heating system, and also setting the thermostat lower in the neighboring Meteorite Lab, where they were processing frozen meteorites from Antarctica.

We had planned to go back this week to continue, but we postponed in order to give JSC time to diagnose and correct the problem–which they did! Zack is going back to Houston next week, and we will resume extractions. Dave is taking a well-deserved break, and will be moving to Houston permanently in June.

Here's where we are:

38843 First IS candidate–looks consistent with a IS track when viewed in the picokeystone. Waiting for analysis from ESRF.
48469 Successfully extracted in a picokeystone, analyzed at the ALS by STXM, turned out to be a small disk-like piece of alumina
16490 Aborted in the middle of the extraction because it became clear that it was an inclusion. It looked like an extended feature in a little "valley" in a region of complex topography, but after we started the extraction and some aerogel debris was generated by the cutting, we realized that there was a substantial amount of water-clear aerogel above it, so it became clear that it was not a track. The aerogel is totally invisible in the VM and in the microscope before extraction.
834150 Successfully extracted–will go to the nanoprobe at ESRF in June
129070 This target was reminiscent of 38843. Aborted in the middle because it became obvious that it was not a track–it moved!

We have chosen another target similar to 38843, now officially named "Nairbus" by its discoverer. This is 134954. We are about half-way through its extraction, and will resume on

Tuesday just after the holiday.

Stay tuned!
posted by Stardust at Home Blogger at 10:54 AM
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Postby Jwb52z » Fri Apr 10, 2009 11:56 pm

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