Discovery of non-random spatial distribution of impacts in the Stardust cometary collector

Westphal, A. J.; Bastien, R. K.; Borg, J.; Bridges, J.; Brownlee, D. E.; Burchell, M. J.; Cheng, A. F.; Clark, B. C.; Djouadi, Z.; Floss, C.; Franchi, I.; Gainsforth, Z.; Graham, G.; Green, S. F.; Heck, P. R.; Horanyi, M.; Hoppe, P.; Horz, F. P.; Huth, J.; Kearsley, A.; Leroux, H.; Marhas, K.; Nakamura-Messenger, K.; Sandford, S. A.; See, T. H.; Stadermann, F. J.; Teslich, N. E.; Tsitrin, S.; Warren, J. L.; Wozniakiewicz, P. J. and Zolensky, M. E. (2008). Discovery of non-random spatial distribution of impacts in the Stardust cometary collector. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 43(1-2) pp. 415–429.

URL: http://digitalcommons.library.arizona.edu/holdings...

Abstract

We report the discovery that impacts in the Stardust cometary collector are not distributed randomly in the collecting media, but appear to be clustered on scales smaller than ~10 cm. We also report the discovery of at least two populations of oblique tracks. We evaluate several hypotheses that could explain the observations. No hypothesis is consistent with all the observations, but the preponderance of evidence points toward at least one impact on the central Whipple shield of the spacecraft as the origin of both clustering and low-angle oblique tracks. High-angle oblique tracks unambiguously originate from a non-cometary impact on the spacecraft bus just forward of the collector.

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