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: