NASA’s Stardust mission has energized the scientific community with new insights into comets and the formation of the solar system.

On Thursday, March 30, Dr. Scott Sandford, NASA scientist and Stardust co-investigator, will update Stardust developments at the NASA Astrobiology Science Conference, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Washington. The plenary session is from 8:30 to 9:10 a.m. EST in the Reagan amphitheater.

“Preliminary examinations indicate that the Stardust mission is a great success,” said Sandford. “It is clear that the mission returned cometary materials in the form of minerals, and we are finding organic materials associated with the grains.”

“While it remains to be proven that these organics are of cometary origin, we are highly encouraged by the analyses thus far, and further analyses may revolutionize our understanding of these important and primitive materials,” he added.

Launched February 7, 1999, the spacecraft’s sample capsule successfully returned on January 15, 2006. Samples have been distributed to about 150 scientists around the world for study.

For more information about AbSciCon 2006, visit: