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Material Developed By Clarkson Graduate Captures Cosmic Particles during Seven-Year Space Odyssey
After logging 2.9 billion miles attached to the Stardust Space Probe, a capsule containing ancient comet specimens from its encounter with Comet Wild-2 (pronounced Vilt) and other particles from the depths of space touched down in the Utah Desert January 15.
Launched in 1999, the Stardust spacecraft journeyed through the solar system for nearly seven years before jettisoning the aerogel-lined canister containing some of the very oldest pieces of our solar system. The priceless payload parachuted to a perfect landing at the Utah Test and Training Range.
The Stardust spacecraft is still in space and although NASA has no current plans for an extended mission, it is fully operational and could be called back into duty. Mission controllers have placed the craft into an orbit around the sun to keep it from hitting earth.
Currently working with the Thermoelectrics Group at JPL, Jones is developing aerogel for use as a thermal insulator and sublimation inhibitor for new thermoelectric devices. He is the principal investigator of a NASA Planetary Instrument Definition and Design Project, which will develop, produce and test non-silicate aerogels for future sample capture and return missions. He is also the principal investigator for Novel retrieval architectures to enable low-cost planetary sample-return missions project, which is investigating various sample collection and return scenarios for future interplanetary space exploration missions.
Jones has a B.S. in physics from Clarkson University, a B.A. in chemistry from the State University of New York at Potsdam, an M.S. in chemistry and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Clarkson. He studied for his Ph.D. with Clarkson Chemistry Professor and Chair Stig Friberg, developing new sol-gel techniques for producing microemulsion-gel glasses. He also completed one-and-one-half years of post doctoral work with Senior University Professor Richard E. Partch in Clarkson's Center for Advanced Materials Processing. Jones is the author of more than 30 scientific journal articles and has received several NASA awards and commendations, including a NASA Space Act Award n 2003.
PHOTO CAPTION: Potsdam native and Clarkson University alumnus Dr. Steven M. Jones developed the aerogel material aboard the Stardust Space Probe responsible for capturing cometary and interstellar particles. After seven years exploring space, the Stardust spacecraft jettisoned the container containing samples of our solar system�s oldest materials back to earth. The precious cargo was recovered at the landing site in Utah January 15.