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STARDUST Status Report

November 3, 2000

There were four Deep Space Network tracking passes in the past week. All subsystems onboard the spacecraft are performing normally.

Optical navigation specialists are processing over 100 star images of the Pleiades cluster to determine the geometric properties of the mirror and primary optics. Initial analysis has already yielded geometric accuracies, or accurate measurement of angles between stars, within a factor of 2 of what was expected before launch. Full geometric accuracy may be achieved with more analysis. The coating in the optical path apparently has not significantly affected this characteristic of the camera.

Both navigation and camera engineering specialists have analyzed star and calibration lamp images from the previous months, taken both before and after CCD heating. There has been a noticeable improvement in image quality. However, there is still significant room for improvement. Additional steps for potential improvement will be investigated.

Four brief star camera outages occurred since the transition to all-stellar mode last week, the longest lasting eight seconds. The onboard timer was increased from 3 to 5 minutes last week, ensuring that no safe mode entry will occur during these outages. The cause of these outages is still under investigation, and the solution may be one of several simple options.

High-resolution ranging data was obtained for navigation. These data are used to determine the spacecraft's position in space, to compute the size and direction of the upcoming trajectory correction maneuver on November 14.

The University of Hawaii provided Stardust's science team with reduced and calibrated observations of Comet Wild-2 taken in 1997 - 1998 by the large optical telescope on Mauna Kea. These observations are being used to improve the dust production model of Comet Wild-2 in order to determine the optimal flyby distance for dust collection and spacecraft safety in 2004.

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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