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Stardust-NEXT Mission Status Report

August 8, 2007

Artist rendition of Stardust approaching Earth The Stardust spacecraft is currently exiting from solar conjunction and is 281 million kilometers from Earth. We are developing command products to re-establish contact on Monday August 13th. After re-establishing communications we will assess the health of the spacecraft and take it out of hibernation mode. A Deep Space Maneuver is planned for mid-September to target an Earth flyby in January 2009.

The Stardust-NExT (New Exploration of Tempel 1) mission is to flyby the comet Tempel 1 on February 14, 2011 in order to obtain high resolution images of the coma and nucleus, as well as measurements of the composition, size distribution, and flux of dust emitted into the coma. We have developed a reliable plan to update knowledge of the rotational phase of the comet sufficiently well to have a high probability of viewing significant portions of the hemisphere studied by Deep Impact (DI) in 2005 and a high probability of imaging the crater made by its impactor. The impact event produced so much ejecta that DI did not succeed in imaging the crater.

Last Updated: August 8, 2007
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