Stardust Status Report
June 8, 2001
There were three Deep Space Network tracking passes this past week and
all subsystems are performing normally.
The Cometary and Interstellar Dust Analyzer instrument continues to
observe the interstellar dust stream with an optimal spacecraft
attitude when not in communication with Earth.
The weekly navigation camera images, monitoring camera performance, were
taken. The image quality remains excellent.
The Stardust spacecraft is in that part of its orbit where it will
encounter Comet Wild 2 during the next orbit loop. We are taking
advantage of this orbital geometry, one orbit early, and are taking images of the exact
stars that will be used to navigate the spacecraft past Comet Wild 2,
2 1/2 years from now. We are placing the spacecraft in the comet flyby
RAM attitude, just as we would during flyby, to take the guide star images
as well as look for any stray light throughout the entire mirror range of
over 180 degrees.
The Comet Wild 2 background guide star and stray light images were
scheduled early this week, however DSN ground problems prevented a reliable uplink
to the spacecraft. These images were successfully taken at the end of the
week and will be downlinked next week.
The navigation camera is expected to be less active by early next
month. The contamination process that occurred twice is well known and we
have demonstrated that we can remove it easily by heating. The camera issues
have been characterized in detail, and its range of performance at Comet
Wild 2 will meet all requirements.
For more information on the Stardust mission - the first ever
comet sample return mission - please visit the Stardust home page: