Sample return of interstellar matter (SARIM)

Srama, Ralf; Stephan, Thomas; Grün, Eberhard; Pailer, Norbert; Kearsley, Anton; Graps, Amara; Laufer, Rene; Ehrenfreund, Pascale; Altobelli, Nicolas; Altwegg, Kathrin; Auer, Siegfried; Baggaley, Jack; Burchell, Mark J.; Carpenter, James; Colangeli, Luigi; Esposito, Francesca; Green, Simon F.; Henkel, Hartmut; Horanyi, Mihaly; Jäckel, Annette; Kempf, Sascha; McBride, Neil; Moragas-Klostermeyer, Georg; Krüger, Harald; Palumbo, Pasquale; Srowig, Andre; Trieloff, Mario; Tsou, Peter; Sternovsky, Zoltan; Zeile, Oliver and Röser, Hans-Peter (2009). Sample return of interstellar matter (SARIM). Experimental Astronomy, 23(1) pp. 303–328.



The scientific community has expressed strong interest to re-fly Stardust-like missions with improved instrumentation. We propose a new mission concept, SARIM, that collects interstellar and interplanetary dust particles and returns them to Earth. SARIM is optimised for the collection and discrimination of interstellar dust grains. Improved active dust collectors on-board allow us to perform in-situ determination of individual dust impacts and their impact location. This will provide important constraints for subsequent laboratory analysis.
The SARIM spacecraft will be placed at the L2 libration point of the Sun–Earth system, outside the Earth’s debris belts and inside the solar-wind charging environment. SARIM is three-axes stabilised and collects interstellar grains between July and October when the relative encounter speeds with interstellar dust grains are lowest (4 to 20 km/s). During a 3-year dust collection period several hundred interstellar and several thousand interplanetary grains will be collected by a total sensitive area of 1 m2. At the end of the collection phase seven collector modules are stored and sealed in a MIRKA-type sample return capsule. SARIM will return the capsule containing the stardust to Earth to allow for an extraction and investigation of interstellar samples by latest laboratory technologies.

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