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Stardust Status Report

November 16, 2001

There were two Deep Space Network (DSN) tracking passes during the past week and all subsystems are normal. Stardust is currently 2.49 AU (231 million miles) from the Sun.

The solar panels continue to generate better than predicted power, so the battery has yet to be needed to support a DSN pass. There was a slight battery discharge due to heater usage meaning that upcoming DSN passes will probably start relying on the battery to supplement direct solar array power.

Stardust is 3.35 AU (311 million miles) from the Earth, so the time it takes for a signal from Earth to reach the spacecraft is almost 28 minutes. Stardust will reach its maximum distance from Earth on January 7, 2002 when it will be 3.59 AU (almost 334 million miles) from Earth.

The last test of the heat shield PICA (Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator) material was completed at the Ames Research Center Arcjet Laboratory. This test was to validate the expected margin in the thermal environment inside of the sample return capsule during the 2004 descent to the Utah Test and Training range. Test data analyses will continue for the next few months.

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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