StarDust@Home Project Begins

Stardust AerogelFinally, after months of waiting and anticipation since January 16th when I first volunteered myself to this program, the [tag]Stardust@Home[/tag] project is now ready to be rolled out. A total of 115,000 volunteers around the world have signed up to participate in this once in a lifetime journey to search for [tag]cosmic dust[/tag].

[tag]NASA[/tag] announced that the Stardust@Home project will officially be at 11:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time on August 1st, 2006 which is pretty late compared to their original forecast of March 1st 2006. Volunteers are required to download focus movies and use a virtual microscope to scan the images.

If you are ready to take some time off and volunteer, NASA is still accepting assistance. Note that not everyone who sign up to help will get the chance as NASA is going to conduct an online test before acceptance. To sign up, visit

This is the best part:

In recognition of the critical importance of the Stardust@home volunteers, the discoverer of an interstellar dust particle will appear as a co-author on any scientific paper by the Stardust@home collaboration announcing the discovery of the particle. The discoverer will also have the privelage of naming the particle! Each particle, as it is discovered, will be given some kind of alpa-numeric identifier (an address of sorts) for book-keeping puposes. But the name that people will actually call each particle by will be given to it by its discoverer. To also recognize the efforts of our volunteers who work hard, but may not find a particle we will invite the top ranked volunteers to come visit our lab in Berkeley for a special tour.

The inset (larger image)shows the current progress of this project. As you can see there are still plenty to do in terms of searching fot the dust.

Houston, we have a problem (2-August-2006 update):

We have shut down the training, testing and VM section of the Stardust@home website because of a problem in which random images of unknown origin appear in the focus movies. We do not yet understand their origin, but they are not images of the Stardust Interstellar Dust Collector. Because of this, we have decided to suspect the training, testing and VM on the Stardust@home website until the problem is corrected.

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