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Stardust Status Report

July 20, 2001

There was one Deep Space Network (DSN) tracking pass this week and all subsystems are performing normally. The spacecraft continues excellent operations.

The Cometary and Interstellar Dust Analyzer (CIDA) instrument continues to observe the interstellar dust stream with an optimal spacecraft attitude when not in communication with Earth.

Plans are being developed to take additional Navigation Camera images. These images will be similar to the recent images that were taken weekly to monitor the camera's performance. One of the last images detected about 90 stars and stars as dim as about visual magnitude 12 as accurately as about 0.1 pixels 1-sigma. The next images will be the last full frame images taken for nearly a year, due to power constraints, as the Stardust trajectory takes the spacecraft out to 2.7 AU (about 400 million kilometers, or 250 million miles) in April 2002.

Minor flight software patches continue to go well except for the Navigation Camera pattern matching and windowing software that was originally to be part of the flight software capability delivered before launch. This flight software will allow an expected image pattern of stars, planets, comets and/or asteroids to be sent to the spacecraft. Only small image windows around this pattern will be sent to the ground, reducing the amount of imaging data by 1000 or more. Such a capability would allow us to continue imaging stars, planets or asteroids deep into the main asteroid belt. The spacecraft test laboratory (STL) computer is an aging SGI Onyx that has difficulty handling the additional burdens of testing the Navigation Camera's flight software, such as simulating and processing images. A search is underway to find a newer, more capable SGI Challenger computer that uses the same operating system, minimizing any transition impact.

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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