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STARDUST Status Report

September 15, 2000

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

A Medium Gain Antenna (MGA) DSN pass used the Solid State Power Amplifier (SSPA) 1 and did not show a power drop. During the previous two MGA DSN passes (early August) the SSPA 1 exhibited its 3db drop in power output that was observed a year ago. At that time, root cause was thought to be due to trapped charge particles accumulating on one of the floating point gate array (FPGA) chips. The SSPA operation was changed from leaving the SSPA on continuously to power cycling between DSN tracking passes to stop the gain. When this power cycling stratety was adopted the 3db power drop ceased. The investigation has been re-opened with an emphasis on SSPA temperature since during the pass on Saturday the SSPA temperature was slightly cooler than the two previous passes.

Five Navigation Camera (NAVCAM) images were taken using five different mirrors. Each image had a minimum of three 6th magnitude stars in the field of view. These images will be used to determine any improvements to the NAVCAM performance since the CCD heater test. With the current DSN scheduling, it will take approximately two weeks to transmit the images stored onboard the spacecraft to Earth.

Plans are being developed to perform another NAVCAM CCD heater test, with one change that would include turning on the Navigation Mirror heater to raise the overall temperature in the optical path.

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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