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Stardust-NEXT Mission Status Report

November 14, 2007

Artist rendition of Stardust approaching Earth On Thursday, November 8, the remainders of the post-bake Navigation Camera (NAVCAM) images were received on the ground. The de-fragmentation of the memory, reducing the memory free list, was performed during the tracking pass on Friday, November 9. All subsystems are nominal as Stardust continues its quiescent cruise.

As part of the on-going task of improving attitude control performance to reduce fuel consumption, a revised dead-band controller was installed during the Friday track. Early analyses show an approximate 20% reduction in thruster firings. This trend will continue to be monitored to verify the initial improvement.

The Stardust-NExT (New Exploration of Tempel 1) mission is to flyby the comet Tempel 1 on February 14, 2011 in order to obtain high resolution images of the coma and nucleus, as well as measurements of the composition, size distribution, and flux of dust emitted into the coma. We have developed a reliable plan to update knowledge of the rotational phase of the comet sufficiently well to have a high probability of viewing significant portions of the hemisphere studied by Deep Impact (DI) in 2005 and a high probability of imaging the crater made by its impactor. The impact event produced so much ejecta that DI did not succeed in imaging the crater.

Last Updated: November 14, 2007
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