A great part of the excitement of scientific discovery is not knowing what will emerge when you take data. Our space missions have proven that time and again, and I have no doubt that as we tighten the resolution on future telescopes, we’ll find things that defy many an accepted theory. NASA’s Stardust mission reflects the phenomenon. Designed as a comet sample return, Stardust is now providing information about the migration of materials in the primordial Solar System, which may point toward a phenomenon more widespread than earlier believed.
Thus the work of Devin Schrader and Jemma Davidson (University of Arizona Center for Meteorite Studies). Working with colleagues at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Washington University in St. Louis, and Harvard University, the duo have produced evidence that at least fragmentary materials in the inner Solar System crossed what is often called the ‘Jupiter Gap’ and moved much further from the Sun. The Stardust samples produced evidence for the kind of migration that the authors then followed up by analyzing numerous samples of early chondrite meteorites.
“This research provides new information about the dynamics of the early Solar System. ...