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STARDUST Status Report

September 8, 2000

There were two Deep Space Network (DSN) tracking passes during the past week. All subsystems onboard the spacecraft are performing normally.

The remaining Navigation Camera (NAVCAM) images taken during the CCD heater test were transmitted to the ground. The changes seen by turning the CCD heater on for a week include:

  1. the disappearance a long dark / bright streaks running across the image
  2. the appearance of new dark areas, but significantly less than before
  3. a reduction in scattered light giving a lower variation in image brightness and a more uniform background across the image
  4. a reduction in peak signal

These changes are what would be expected for improved camera performance. However, the changes were not sufficient to resolve the filament in the Calibration Lamp that was turned on for all of the CCD heater test images. The Calibration Lamp was still blurred and surrounded by scattered light. Therefore we have inconclusive results as to if and how much the camera performance was improved. It could be that we removed some coating on the CCD, but still may have additional coatings on the primary optics, mirror and periscope.

Since we did not obtain sufficient improvement to resolve the Calibration Lamp filament to quantify the changes resulting from the CCD heater test, star images will be taken next week to see if there was improvement of the camera point spread response to point sources. If there is no or some improvement, additional heating sequences will be implemented, including turning on the mirror heater to work on potential coatings on the primary optics and mirror.

The Principal Investigator, Don Brownlee, described the STARDUST mission at the Meteoritic Society of America meeting in Chicago, Illinois. He will participate in a capabilities review of the Curatorial Facility at Johnson Space Center next week.

For more information on the STARDUST mission - the first ever comet sample return mission - please visit the STARDUST home page:

Last Updated: November 26, 2003
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