STARDUST Status Report
8 Jun 2001
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
There were three Deep Space Network (DSN) tracking passes this past week and all subsystems are performing normally.
The Cometary and Interstellar Dust Analyzer instrument continues to observe the interstellar dust stream with an optimal spacecraft attitude when not in communication with Earth.
The weekly navigation camera images, monitoring camera performance, were taken. The image quality remains excellent.
The Stardust spacecraft is in that part of its orbit where it will encounter Comet Wild 2 during the next orbit loop. We are taking advantage of this orbital geometry, one orbit early, and are taking images of the exact stars that will be used to navigate the spacecraft past Comet Wild 2 2.5 years from now. We are placing the spacecraft in the comet flyby RAM attitude, just as we would during flyby, to take the guide star images as well as look for any stray light throughout the entire mirror range of over 180 degrees.
The Comet Wild 2 background guide star and stray light images were scheduled early this week, however DSN ground problems prevented a reliable uplink to the spacecraft. These images were successfully taken at the end of the week and will be downlinked next week.
The navigation camera is expected to be less active by early next month. The contamination process that occurred twice is well known and we have demonstrated that we can remove it easily. The camera is now clean, has been characterized in detail, and its range of performance at Comet Wild 2 is well known and will meet all requirements. Therefore future image activities will be for only routine monitoring as planned before launch.
For more information on the Stardust mission - the first ever comet sample return mission - please visit the Stardust home page: