19 Apr 2002
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
STARDUST Status Report
There was one Deep Space Network tracking pass in the past week and all subsystems onboard the spacecraft are normal.
Stardust passed through aphelion, its furthest point from the Sun, 2.72 AU and is now on its way toward the inner solar system.
This is the farthest distance ever reached by a solar-powered spacecraft. Far beyond the orbit of Mars, the sunlight intensity is only 13% of what we see at Earth, resulting in very cold temperatures and diminishing the power the spacecraft's solar cells can generate. However, the battery's charge state has not dropped below 91.6 %.
The spacecraft has now successfully traveled 1.5 of its planned 3 loops around the Sun.
For more information on the Stardust mission -- the first ever comet sample return mission -- please visit the Stardust home page.