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Stardust Status Report

February 16, 2001

There were fifteen Deep Space Network (DSN) tracking passes in the past week and all subsystems are performing normally.

The Cometary Interstellar Dust Analyzer (CIDA) was successfully commanded to perform the second and third checkout activities, and is now in its operational state awaiting particle hits. CIDA's purpose is to collect dust and analyze it in real time. Analysis indicates that CIDA suffered no damage due to the solar flare in November 2000.

One of the on-going activities is the analysis to determine the cause of the multiple firings that are occasionally seen when the spacecraft's attitude reaches the edge of the deadband, or the edge of the region through which the spacecraft can drift without correcting itself. A typical deadband used for communicating with the spacecraft is 4 degrees in the X, Y and Z-axes and the spacecraft commonly moves through the deadband at a rate of less than 0.02 degrees/second. When the spacecraft's attitude hits the edge of the deadband, commands are automatically issued to the thrusters to move the spacecraft toward the other side of the deadband. Sometimes when the thruster commands are issued, the software does not realize the spacecraft is moving in the right direction and issues a redundant thruster firing to ensure that the proper direction is achieved. Commands were executed to record the attitude telemetry data at a very high rate for three hours in the hopes that a multiple firing would occur. Analysis of this data is ongoing.

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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