Team Name - University of Colorado Boulder

Team Name - University of Colorado Boulder

UPR-R(river) P(rock) X PDR, October 29, 2010 Presentation Version 1.3 2011 CoDR 1 Mission Overview Mission Statement In representation of the University of Puerto Rico, as a team we intend to get involved in the pilot project RockSat X 2011 to expand our knowledge and that of others in aerospace related areas. Carefully selected, the experiment that will be carried out includes mass spectroscopy to analyze molecular species and their respective partial pressures in near space. In this way we will contribute with valuable information for interstellar travel and advances benefiting the space bound crew to collect essential resources such as water and fuel. 2011 CoDR 2

Mission Overview Break mission statement down into your overall mission requirements Carrying out this experiment involves a set of minimum requirements. Our main tool will be a mass spectrometer that will identify molecular species from 1 to 200 amu. Computers need to be modified and communication established with them by telemetry. This is one of the most important requisites needed to carry out the project properly. It is also necessary to have a basic knowledge of science in the areas of chemistry and physics to understand several events/concepts that will be taking place. 2011 CoDR 3 Mission Overview In this experiment, we expect to determine the abundance of different types of gas molecules, that exist in the outer atmosphere, and near to outer space, using mass spectroscopy. We want to encourage future space voyagers to use gas molecules present in

outer space to capture or synthesize necessary resources, such as water and fuel. 2011 CoDR 4 Mission Overview Our data would be used as preliminary information about what type of molecular gases are found, at what altitude, and with what density. Having the basic data about gases in outer space, scientists can develop or apply mechanisms to start converting gas molecules, or atoms to make the necessary resources needed in long distance space flights. 2011 CoDR 5 Team Organization Chart 2011

CoDR Theory and Concepts 2011 CoDR 7 Theory and Concepts The Mass Spectrometry (MS) is a method that uses the combined properties of mass and electric charge to detect and measure the relative abundances of molecular species Vs. the atomic mass units. The instrument will also measure the total amount of gas and the partial pressures of the species studied. 2011 CoDR Experiments: Mass Spectrometry [MS]: Species mass measurement (molecules/atoms). Identify substance by electric charge/mass:

Positively charge the molecules (ionize them). Accelerate the ions through an alternating electromagnetic field that acts as a filter. Detect the number of charged species vs. mass. The total pressure is measured in a B/A collector. 2011 CoDR How the instrument works: Magnetic Filter Electro-Magnetic Filter 2011 CoDR How the instrument works: Step 1 Create the ions When the mean free path of gas molecules in a vacuum system is on the order of a few cm or more (at < 10-3 Torr), electrons of a suitable energy will create mostly positive ions at a rate depending on the gas pressure, temperature and species of the individual molecules. A hot

filament is the source of the electrons, the energy being 70 ev and the current a few milliamps. A stream of ions is then available and electro-statically focused toward the mass filter. After the electrons pass through the source grid, they continue through to the B/A gauge section, where they produce more ions. These ions will strike the collector wire and produce a current there, proportional to the total gas pressure. 2011 CoDR How the instrument works: Step 2 Filter the ions A quadrupole mass filter consisting of an arrangement of 4 metal rods with a time-varying electrical voltage of the proper amplitude and frequency applied, can be made to pass only ions of a particular mass entering along the axis at one end, through to the other end. The mass filter must be constructed very accurately to have the same passband throughout it's length. Step 3 Detect the filtered ions The ions that pass through the mass filter are focused toward a Faraday cup and the current is measured with a sensitive ammeter. The resultant signal being proportional to the partial pressure of the particular ion species passed

by the mass filter. 2011 CoDR How the instrument works: Step 4 Amplify the signal The current produced by the ions is very small. For example, at 10-11 Torr partial pressure at mass 28 the current at the faraday detector is approximately 10-14 amps. This requires an extremely sensitive amplifier. The ions striking the B/A detector wire produce a comparatively larger current, on the order of 10-9 amps at 3.3 x 10-7 Torr. 2011 CoDR How the instrument works: ? 2011 CoDR Previous Research This is a summary of the previous research. What we found is that since this

has never been done before we can only use this research as a guide. We found that this proposed missions consist in mass spectrometry in outer space. Rosetta was a spacecraft mission launched in 2004. It includes instruments for gas and particle analysis like Rossina for example. The instrument consists of magnetic and time of flight mass spectrometers. The purpose of the mission was to find chemical compounds including enantiomers and chemical activity. There also exists another type of instrument used for sample analysis Mattauch-Herzog mass spectrometer was created for the study of insitu planetary atmosphere investigation. We also found an abstract of the article Mass spectrometric measurements of minor constituent in the lower thermosphere. They found measurements of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, water and nitrogen monoxide using rocket borne mass spectrometers. Two mass spectrometers where taken to Mars by the Vinking program. In early 2005 Cassini-Huygens mission delivered a GC Mass Spec to analyze atmospheric samples of Titans (the largest moon of Saturn) and also of its surface cover with hydrocarbons, on board of the space craft there were also ions and a neutron mass spectrometer which measured the ion composition. 2011 CoDR 15 We also found another type of instrument called PEPE(Plasma Experiment for Planetary Exploration) PEPE class instrument can efficiently sample and analyze the ion population. The instrument traced molecular abundance including carbon dioxide, Nitrogen ratio, and heavier organic molecules up to 135 amu.

The reason we are not using this type of instrument is because it allows us to separate molecular ions into their components and the purpose of our experiment is to find species to regenerate energy/materials for future spacecraft missions. Another mission was Stardust, this spacecraft was used to bring samples of interstellar dust to study the origin of life and the evolution of Sun. During his study he had the opportunity of orbiting with comet Wild 2 which at the end created another experiment. They collected the remnant of the comet particles using mass spectrometer then analyzed them in earth. In conclusion, as we can see we did not find any mission that collected the sample and analyzed it in outer space. All of them collected the sample and brought them to Earth. 2011 CoDR 16 Example ConOps t 1.7 min Altitude Altitude: 120 km t 4.0 min ReScan,

Deployment of secong MS Altitude: 120 km Apogee t 1.3 min Altitude: 95 km Start recovery sequences t 2.8 min Star Ionizing, Mass Spectra Altitude: 160 km End of Orion Burn and Filaments ON -G switch triggered

Altitude: 95 km Retract Complete t 5.5 min Chute Deploys t 0.6 min t = 0 min t 4.5 min Altitude: 60 km t 15 min Splash Down -All systems on 2011 CoDR Expected results MS outputs results in an integrated mass spectrum with all identifiable species represented by their mass/charge ratio.

Analyze the results to know what species are in the lower to outer space. Verify atmospheric composition. Identify possible sources of energy and/or useful materials. 2011 2011 CoDR CoDR Expected gases in our atmosphere N2, O2, Ar, CO2 He, Ne, Kr, Xe, H2, N2O CH4, O3, H2O, CO, NO2, NH3, SO2, H2S Concentration of N2, O2, O3, He Aurora (80km to 160km) 19 2011 2011 CoDR

CoDR 17 There are a lots of species that we expect to find, all of them in different concentration in function of altitude. In a mass spectrum ionic species are represented by their mass/ charge ratio in the x-axis and their relative abundance and the y-axis. From the literature we found an example of a combined mass spectrum of several species. Mass Spectrum (log intensity scale) of gases in the atmosphere of Mars. (MCLafferty, 1993) 20 2011 2011 CoDR CoDR 18 Other examples of single species mass spectrum Mass spectrum for

methane Mass spectrum for bithylene (C2H3) (CH3), bethane (C2H4) and an and isotope of hydrocarbons (C4H7). Mass spectrum for neon (Ne) and its isotopes. isotope of hydrocarbons (C6H7). (MCLafferty, 1993) (MCLafferty, 1993) 21 2011 2011 CoDR CoDR 18 Parent Gas Relative Mass Ions amu

Formed Hydrogen 2 H2 2 H 1 Carbon monoxide 28 CO2 28 O 16

C 12 C2H5 29 Helium 4 He 4 Methane 16 CH4 16 CH3 15

CH2 14 C2H4 28 NH3 17 C2H3 27 NH2 16 CH3 15 H2O

18 CH2 14 OH 17 O2 32 O 16 O 16 40 Ar 40

36 Ar 36 HC various C5H11 71 Ammonia Water 17 18 Fluorine 19 F

19 Hydrogen fluoride 20 HF 20 F 19 Ethane Oxygen Argon 30 32 Hydrocarbons various Neon

20, 22 Ne 20, 22 Nitrogen 28 N2 28 C5H9 69 N 14 C4H9 57

C2H4 28 C4H7 55 C2H3 27 C3H7 43 CH3 15 C3H5 41 CH2 14

CO2 28 Ethylene Carbon 28 28 2011 CoDR 22 System Overview 2011 CoDR 23 Subsystem Overview

2011 CoDR Critical Interface Interface Name Brief Description Potential Solution RGA 1 probe The RGA 1 will be mounted vertically with the boom arm attached to it. Support and protection will be fundamental to get to apogee with no failure. The RGA main support will be mounted on the floor of the RockSat X deck. The RGA will be held together by a circular tube of aluminum or stainless steelthat will withstand the 50 Gs presumed to be sustained by the rocket. RGA 2 probe The RGA 2 will be mounted vertically

with the boom arm attached to it. Support and protection will be fundamental to get to apogee with no failure. The RGA main support will be mounted on the floor of the RockSat X deck. The RGA will be held together by a circular tube of aluminum or stainless steelthat will withstand the 50 Gs presumed to be sustained by the rocket. RGA 1 CCU It will be mounted at the center of the first floor of RockSat X deck and will be connected through wires to the RGA sensor 1 It will be mounted at the center of the second floor of RockSat X deck and will be connected through wires to the RGA sensor 2 It will be mounted on the third floor of RockSat X deck. It will be connected to both board stacks. It will receive all the data and will record and send it back thru the telemetry to us down on earth.

For additional space probably will remove the case that protects the board. Because we believe it will not be necessary and occupies necessary space. For additional space probably will remove the case that protects the board. Because we believe it will not be necessary and occupies necessary space. The connections of the wired will be all over the floors. So we will organize the running of the wires and glue then good so the vibrations wont break any connections to the boards This part is on the third floor also. Regulating voltage of the all the parts. 2011 Still we dont have a perfect size of it, but it will be built. RGA 2 CCU x86 Computer DC-DC power supply

CoDR System Level Block Diagram 2011 CoDR Requirement Verification Requirement Verification Method Description Boom extension will deploy maximum 18. It will too withstand the vibration test. Demonstration of it functionality Boom will drop from vertical position to horizontal position and extend 12 for a total of 24. Later on to retract to its original state.

Total voltage of equipment and complete functionality of the DC-DC converter. Experimentation of the whole system ready for launch Ones all the parts are assembled , build and connected they will be turned on as it were for flight. Then the current will be measured for total voltage. Support for the RGA 1 & 2 sensors must hold the complete vibration test. Vibration test date on WFF First designing a strong structure and use materials strong enough to support the vibration test Software

Running a simulate launch Ones the software has been edited and uploaded. We will run a simulation to see if it works. 2011 CoDR Subsystem Design 2011 CoDR 28 Block Diagram Primary Components of the functional diagram. Legend 2011 CoDR Trade Studies

Embedded x86 computer mainboard VIA EPIA P820-12L Pico ITX Mainboard VIA EITX-3001 Em-ITX DC-DC Converter Intelligent DC-DC converter with USB interface I/O Board RS-232 Relay Controller 4-Channel 5 Amp SPDT + 8-Channel 8/10-Bit A/D RS-232 4-Channel Solid State Relay Controller + 8-Channel 8/10-Bit A/D Data storage OCZ Onyx Series OCZSSD1-1ONX32G 1.8" 32GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive 2011 CoDR Trade Studies For mainboard considering cost, number serial ports, power requirements and form factor, option A for the prototype will be VIA EITX-3001 Em-ITX. For I/O Board considering cost, configuration options and form factor, option A for the prototype will be RS-232 Relay Controller 4Channel 5 Amp SPDT + 8-Channel 8/10-Bit A/D which has more option for configuring the relay and has a smaller footprint.

2011 CoDR Risk Matrix Risk 1 Computer system crash during flight and data couldnt be collected mission objectives couldnt be completed. Risk 2 A boom arm failure during deployment occurs and probe performs measurements inside the payload. Risk 3 Telemetry error between x86computer and wallops leaving experiment data only on the payload storage which will have survive landing on the sea. Risk 4 Power failure on some of the component making funtionability limited. 2011 CoDR River Rock X Sketch Diagram 2011 CoDR 33 3d imaged 2011 CoDR

2011 CoDR 35 Part List and Prices x86 computer $88.99 ocz ssd http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227553&c m_re=ocz_ssd-_-20-227-553-_-Product $369.00 via emitx motherboard http://www.e-itx.com/eitx-3001.html control boards es solo uno tenemos dos opciones $124 RS-232 4-Channel Solid State Mixed SSR Relay Controller + 8-Channel 8/10-Bit A/D http://www.controlanything.com/Relay/Device/ADSSR4xPROXR_MIX $124 RS-232 Relay Controller 4-Channel 5 Amp SPDT + 8-Channel 8/10-Bit A/D http://www.controlanything.com/Relay/Device/ADR45PROXR

DC-DC converter $59.95 Intelligent DC-DC converter with USB interface http://www.mini-box.com/DCDC-USB?sc=8&category=981 2011 CoDR 36 Project Management Plan 2011 CoDR 37 Date 10/25/2010 Order of the first mass spectrometer 10/26/2010 Group Meeting for PDR 10/27/2010

Preliminary Design Review (PDR) Due 10/29/2010 Preliminary Design Review (PDR) Teleconference 11/02/2010 Group Meeting for CDR 11/04/2010 Group Meeting for CDR 11/09/2010 Group Meeting for CDR and Online Progress Report 2 11/12/2010 Online Progress Report 2 Due 11/16-17/2010

Arrival of the mass spectrometer 11/24/2010 Install the first mass spectrometer in the Rock Sat X Plate 11/17/2010 Critical Design Review (CDR) Due 11/19/2010 Critical Design Review (CDR) Teleconference 11/23/2010 Group Meeting 11/30/2010 Group Meeting 12/3/2010 Post CDR Action Item Generation

1/14/2011 Final Down SelectFlights Awarded 2011 CoDR Budget Equipment, Materials, and Trips Cost Materials for Pilot: $5,000 Computer protector Production canister Materials: $2,500 Computers x-86 ocz ssd $88.99

Via emitx motherboard $369.00 Power supplies Teflon cables, connectors Capton tape, insulators Control Board RS-232 4-Channel Solid State $124 RS-232 $-Channel 5 Amp $124 DC-DC Converter $60 GC MassSpec $22,500 Residual Gas Analizer(3) $10,350

Consumable Materials $7,650 Electron Multiplier(3) $4,500 Payload flight $24,000 Trip to Wallops August 2011 $20,600 Flight $5,000 Hotel $8,400 Car

$2,400 Food $4,800 Trip to Wallps June 2011 $4,790 Flight $1,500 Hotel Car $1,960 $500 Food $840 Team Polo's $600

Estimate Total $82,820 2011 CoDR 39 Team Members Students: Faculty Support:

Angelica Betancourt Joseph Casillas Luis Maldonado Pedro Melendez Marisara Morales Joshua Nieves Oscar A. Resto Omar Rocafort Carlos Rodriguez Esteban Romero Marimer Soto Yashira Torres 2011 CoDR Vladimir Makarov Gerardo Morell Ricardo Morales Gladys Muoz

Guillermo Nery Oscar Resto 40 Conclusion The aim in this experiment is to analyze the atomic/molecule species that could be found during the flight of the payload, ionizing and analyzing them by their atomic mass components and partial pressures. With this kind of analysis we intend to study the possibility of in-flight energy/materials resource collector for long term and deep space vehicles. Issues, concerns, any questions 6 amps at 28 volts to confirm with actual equipment Battery plate Boom Design Budget !!! Plan for where you will take your design from here? Purchase the fierst MassSpectrometerd Atmospheric, and vibration test on the Mass Spectrometer will be send to be tested by mail. 2011 CoDR 41 References

1. Anonymous. Internet tutorial for GCMS. Retrived from: http://www.scientific.org/tutorials/articles/gcms.html 2. Anonymous. Bioinstrumentation class (internet based) (1998). Retrieved from: http://www.gmu.edu/depts/SRIF/tutorial/gcd/gc-ms2.htm 3. Extorr Instrument manual (2006). PDF download retrieved from: http://extorr.com/manual.htm 4. Meng, Alan and Hui. Retrived from: http://www.vtaide.com/png/atmosphere.htm 5. Russel, Randy (2006). Retrieved from: http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Atmosphere/chemistry_troposphere.html 6. Tans, Pierter. Retrived from: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/#mlo 7. Uherek, Elmar (2004) What is up in air in the troposphere? . Retrieved from: http://www.atmosphere.mpg.de/enid/1__Extensi_n_y_composici_n/-_componentes_2vv.html 8.UNEP/GRIP (2003). Retrieved from: http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc%5Ftar/?src=/ climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/221.htm 9. Young, D. T., B. L. Barraclough, J. -J. Berthelier. Plasma Experiment for Planetary Exploration,(1998 ). Retrieved from: http://nmp-techval-reports.jpl.nasa.gov/DS1/PEPE_Integrated_Report.pdf 2011 CoDR 42 10. D. Offermann, K. Pelka and U. Von Zah, Mass spectrometric measurements of minor constituents in the lower thermosphere, Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science

11. Earths Atmosphere, Retrieved from: http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/ 9-12/features/912_liftoff_atm.html 12. W. Reusch, The Mass Spectrometer (1999). Retrieved from: http://www2.chemistry.msu.edu/faculty/reusch/VirtTxtJml/Spectrpy/MassSpec/ masspec1.htm 13. The Thermosphere, Retrieved from: http://www.windows2universe.org/earth_science/Atm_Science/Temp_structure/ structure_thermo.html 14. P. Mitchell. 2004, The Venus-Halley Missions, Retrieved from: http://www.mentallandscape.com/V_Vega.htm 15.Mission Overview: Stardust. Retrieved from: http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/index.html 16.Anonymous. Internet tutorial for GCMS. Retrived from: http://www.scientific.org/tutorials/articles/gcms.html 2011 CoDR 43 17. Anonymous. Bioinstrumentation class (internet based) (1998). Retrieved from: http://www.gmu.edu/depts/SRIF/tutorial/gcd/gc-ms2.htm 18. 18. Extorr Instrument manual (2006). PDF download retrieved from: http://extorr.com/manual.htm 19. Meng, Alan and Hui. Retrived from: http://www.vtaide.com/png/atmosphere.htm 20. Russel, Randy (2006). Retrieved from: http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/ Atmosphere/chemistry_troposphere.html

21. Tans, Pierter. Retrived from: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/#mlo 22. Uherek, Elmar (2004) What is up in air in the troposphere? . Retrieved from: http://www.atmosphere.mpg.de/enid/1__Extensi_n_y_composici_n/_componentes_2vv.html 23. UNEP/GRIP (2003). Retrieved from: http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc %5Ftar/?src=/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/221.htm 2011 CoDR 44 Mission Overview: Previous Research Mass spectrometers have been used at other planets and moons. Two were taken to Mars by the Viking program. In early 2005 the Cassini-Huygens mission delivered a specialized GCMS instrument aboard the Huygens probe through the atmosphere of Titan, the largest moon of the planet Saturn. This instrument analyzed atmospheric samples along its descent trajectory and was able to vaporize and analyze samples of Titan's frozen, hydrocarbon covered surface once the probe had landed. These measurements compared the abundance of isotope(s) of each particle comparatively to earth's natural abundance.[42] Also onboard the CassiniHuygens spacecraft is an ion and neutral mass spectrometer which has been taking measurements of Titan's atmospheric composition as well as the composition of Enceladus' plumes. A Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyzer mass spectrometer was carried by the Mars Phoenix Lander launched in 2007.[43] 2011

CoDR 45 Mission Overview: Previous Research Rosetta is a European Space Agency-led robotic spacecraft mission launched in 2004. Once attached to the comet, expected to take place in November 2014, the lander will begin its science mission: around characterization of the nucleus, determination of the chemical compounds present, including enantiomers and study of comet activities and developments over time. It includes instruments for gas and particle analysis, like for example ROSINA(Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis) the instrument consists a double focus magnetic mass spectrometer DFMS and a reflectron type time of flight mass spectrometer RTOF. The DFMS has a high resolution for molecules up to 300 amu. The RTOF is a highly sensitive for neutral molecules and for ions. 2011 CoDR 46 Mission Overview: Previous Research

For the in situ investigation of planetary atmospheres a small MattauchHerzog mass spectrometer has been developed. Its highpressure performance has been improved by incorporating differential pumping between the ion source and the analyzing fields, shortening the pathlength as well as increasing the extraction field in the ion source. In addition doubly ionized and dissociated ions are used for mass analysis. These measures make possible operation up to 102 millibars. Results of laboratory tests related to linearity, dynamic range, and mass resolution are presented, in particular for CO2. 2011 CoDR 47 Mission Overview: Previous Research Mass spectrometric measurements of minor constituents in the lower thermosphere D. Offermanna, K. Pelkaa and U. Von Zahna a Physikalisches Institut, Universitt Bonn W. Germany Received 1 November 1971. Available online 15 November 2001. Abstract The feasibility of measurements of CO2, NO, N and H2O in the lower thermosphere by means of rocket-borne mass spectrometers with helium-cooled and with conventional

ion sources is discussed. Three recent night-time experiments above Sardinia are described. They took place on October 13, 1970, at 0208 CET (payload SN5, heliumcooled ion source) and on February 7, 1971, at 0022 CET and 0445 CET (payloads ESRO S80-2 and -3, respectively, uncooled ion sources). Preliminary results indicate CO2 to be mixed up to the turbopause and to be in diffusive equilibrium higher up. The ratio NO: N2 was found to be in fair agreement with recent model calculations of Strobel (1971) for the altitute range 140 to 200 km. 2011 CoDR 48 Mission Overview: Previous Research Proposed project of a cometary coma is composed of material outgassed and sputtered from the nucleus. Photoionization, charge exchange, and direct surface sputtering all generate a substantial ion population. A PEPE-class instrument can efficiently sample and analyze the ion population. Example targeted measurements are the cometary 13C/12C ratio (a possible test of solar vs. extrasolar system origins), the 18O/16O ratio (Halley is the only outer solar system object for which this is known), trace molecular abundances including the CO/N2 ratio which a PEPEclass instrument is uniquely capable of measuring [2], and heavier organic molecules up to 135 amu. PEPE possesses a unique advantage over mass spectrometers flown on Giotto and those on known future comet missions: the carbon foil used to generate timing signals breaks up molecules, allowing isotopic ratios of volatile species such as H, C, N, O to be analyzed without interferences from hydride molecular ions (H2, CH, NH, OH,

H2O, etc.) [2]. 2011 CoDR 49 Mission Overview: Previous Research IMS design is ideally suited for magnetospheric studies of the Neptune-Triton or Jovian environments (Focus 2) where it could build on the high-massresolution studies of the Saturnian system planned with Cassini IMS [2]. Because our IMS/PEPE designs measure composition, they are also invaluable for the study of the ionospheres of outer planet moons, and indirectly, their atmospheric and surface chemistries (Focus 1). For the Neptune-Triton system, a PEPE-class instrument could give a first in-situ glimpse of the magnetosphere and help determine key processes in Triton's atmosphere, as well as yielding some key isotope ratios. Galileo's IMS mass resolution of only 2 amu did not allow Na to be distinguished from O, an important goal for the understanding of Io's ionospheric and exospheric processes. Key isotopic measurements, e.g. 34S/32S, at Io are also crucial to understanding that body's evolution. Similarly, a highmass- resolution instrument in low Europa orbit may give a better understanding not only of its tenuous atmosphere, but also of key isotopic and elementalsurface compositions in lieu of a lander. 2011 CoDR 50

Mission Overview: Previous Research The Stardust spacecraft brought back samples of interstellar dust, including recently discovered dust streaming into our Solar System from the direction of Sagittarius. These materials are believed to consist of ancient pre-solar interstellar grains and nebular that include remnants from the formation of the Solar System. Analysis of such fascinating celestial specks is expected to yield important insights into the evolution of the Sun its planets and possibly even the origin of life itself. During the Stardust project, the spacecraft traveled more than 3 billion miles over seven years, rendezvous-ing with the comet Wild 2 during the second of three orbits around the sun. The end of the mission marked the beginning of another adventure: Examining the comet particles with powerful scientific instruments called mass spectrometers, which are able to identify what isotopes the stuff is made of. Using mass spectrometry, the researchers found the amino acid on samples from the comet Wild 2, adding fuel to the argument that life on Earth may have had its start in outer space and that life may exist outside of Earth. 2011 CoDR 51

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