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STARDUST Status Report

October 6, 2000

On Thursday, October 5, Stardust returned to full operating conditions when it left safe mode. During its scheduled Deep Space Network (DSN) tracking pass on Wednesday, Stardust entered safe mode. The signal was lost at 16:37:40 (UT), and was re-acquired the following day at 16:48:23 (UT) as anticipated, when the spacecraft started safe mode transmission. Based on the real-time telemetry that showed all systems performing normally, the spacecraft was commanded to exit safe mode before the end of the three-hour communication pass, and at 19:20 (UT) the command to exit safe mode was executed. By the end of the DSN pass at 21:30 UT, the preliminary estimate for the cause of the safe mode entry remained the same. The safe mode entry shares characteristics with two previous safe mode entries last July/August, a Payload Attitude Control Interface (PACI) board reset. However, the data indicates that there was no PACI reset this time during the entire episode.

Investigation into the root cause is ongoing and will require some time to conclude. At the end of Thursday's DSN pass, the spacecraft was configured to point the Medium Gain antenna at Earth in a six degree deadband, with the Telecommunications Subsystem powered on, and using Gyro-based attitude determination (Inertial Measuring Units are powered on).

During the DSN pass on Friday, commands were sent to the spacecraft to by restarting the current flight sequence, returning the spacecraft to Sun point, and powering off the Telecommunications Subsystem. The IMUs will remain on until a better understanding of the root cause of the safe mode entry is known. The current flight sequence will command the spacecraft to communicate at the next regularly scheduled time on Wednesday October 11th.

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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