Cover image for Catching stardust : comets, asteroids and the birth of the solar system / Natalie Starkey.
Catching stardust : comets, asteroids and the birth of the solar system / Natalie Starkey.

Publication Information:
London : Bloomsbury Sigma, 2018.
Physical Description:
256 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Subject Term:

Geographic Term:


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
523.2 STA Book Adult General Collection

On Order



'A promising debut.' New Scientist
Icy, rocky, sometimes dusty, always mysterious comets and asteroids are among the Solar System 's very oldest inhabitants, formed within a swirling cloud of gas and dust in the area of space that eventually hosted the Sun and its planets. Locked within each of these extra-terrestrial objects is the 4.6-billion-year wisdom of Solar System events, and by studying them at close quarters using spacecraft we can coerce them into revealing their closely-guarded secrets. This offers us the chance to answer some fundamental questions about our planet and its inhabitants.
Exploring comets and asteroids also allows us to shape the story of Earth 's future, enabling us to protect our precious planet from the threat of a catastrophic impact from space, and maybe to even recover valuable raw materials from them. This cosmic bounty could be as useful in space as it is on Earth, providing the necessary fuel and supplies for humans as they voyage into deep space to explore more distant locations within the Solar System.
Catching Stardust tells the story of these enigmatic celestial objects, revealing how scientists are using them to help understand a crucial time in our history the birth of the Solar System, and everything contained within it.

Author Notes

Natalie Starkey is a geologist and cosmochemist. Following a PhD at Edinburgh University studying the geochemistry of Arctic volcanoes, Natalie 's post-doctoral work at The Open University shifted her research focus to comet and asteroid samples. It was at this time she got the chance to analyse samples returned by the NASA Stardust and JAXA Hayabusa space missions.
Natalie 's passion for her research makes her a keen science communicator. She received a British Science Association Media Fellowship in 2013, and regularly appears on television and radio internationally, as well as being a science host on Neil deGrasse Tyson 's popular StarTalk Radio. Her writing includes numerous articles for the Guardian, and she is a regular contributor to The Conversation website.
@starkeystardust /

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Geologist Starkey expertly details the current understanding of comets and asteroids, and how they function as snapshots of the universe at an earlier point in time, thereby providing insight into such areas as the formation of the solar system and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Starkey begins with an explanation of how these objects are formed, classified, and studied, and how scientists use the information obtained from them. This background allows for a fuller appreciation of the ingenuity and value of the NASA Stardust, ESA (European Space Agency) Rosetta, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Hayabusa space-probes, discussed at length. In addition to these recent fact-finding missions, all of which Starkey was involved with, she discusses how a wide range of topics, from the motion of planets to the composition of cosmic dust, relate to the study of comets and asteroids, and concludes with how these studies might aid humanity should Earth collide with an extraterrestrial object. Throughout, Starkey's explanations of scientific terms and concepts are generally clear and understandable, aided by a useful glossary. The book provides an informative and valuable introduction to the field, from an author clearly knowledgeable and passionate about her work. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.