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STARDUST Status Report

November 20, 2000

STARDUST exited safe mode early this week after entering this condition late last week because of proton hits to the star cameras, coming from one of the largest solar flares since 1976. All subsystems are performing normally, including star camera A that is being used in the attitude control loop. The spacecraft used the Inertial Measurement Units (IMU's) to control the spacecraft's attitude initially after leaving safe mode, to assess the star camera's performance. After verifying that the camera was performing normally, the spacecraft was then placed in all-stellar attitude mode, and the IMU's were turned off.

The star camera is currently viewing the Pleiades and Hyades star clusters, and Jupiter and Saturn are also in the field. The planets are not used to determine attitude since their positions change with time relative to the fixed star fields.

Trajectory Correction Maneuver #4 (TCM 4) has been postponed from this week to 28 November to allow time to reconstruct the trajectory after safe mode and to accommodate Thanksgiving vacations. The magnitude of the trajectory correction has increased from 1.8 meters/second to 2.4 meters/second due to the thrusting during safe mode entry and to moving the maneuver closer to Earth gravity assist (EGA). This will not affect the EGA or the comet encounter. The probability of STARDUST entering the Earth's atmosphere on its present course before EGA is essentially zero to 27 decimal places and less than this after the upcoming maneuver.

The project is supporting Deep Space Network loading from the late 2003 to early 2004. Occurring within a month during this time: the Comet Wild 2 encounter by STARDUST, two US Mars Exploration Rovers landing, the ESA Mars Express Orbiter goes into orbit and its lander, Beagle 2, touches down, the US Mars '01 Odyssey and ISAS Nozomi will operate in Mars orbit, Deep Impact launches and Cassini and Galileo have major science campaigns involving international partners. It appears that current DSN resources are not sufficient to support all of these activities, placing STARDUST and these other missions at various levels of risk. This current study will continue to develop plans for additional DSN resources and individual projects, including STARDUST, assessing the feasibility and risks for reducing tracking, changing encounter dates, etc. to mitigate these risks.

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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