MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
STARDUST MISSION STATUS
February 11, 1999
NASA's Stardust spacecraft, successfully launched from Cape
Canaveral, Florida on Feb. 7, remains in excellent health with
all systems normal as it forges ahead on its mission to Comet
The Stardust mission operations team reported that the Delta
II launch was so well-targeted that barely any adjustment will be
required during the mission's first scheduled trajectory
adjustment on Feb. 22.
Tracked through the large antennas of NASA's global Deep
Space Network, Stardust passed beyond the orbit of the Moon on
Monday, Feb. 8. The spacecraft is now more than 1,608,000
kilometers (nearly 1 million miles) from Earth, traveling on a
long trajectory that will carry it through a stream of
interstellar dust on its way to an encounter with Comet Wild-2 on
Jan. 2, 2004.
Stardust's objectives are to gather particles flying off the
nucleus of Comet Wild-2 and return them to Earth for scientific
analysis, and to collect and return samples of interstellar dust
flowing through our solar system. Stardust is the first
spacecraft ever launched on a mission to bring back material from
outside the Earth-Moon system. It is also the first U.S.
mission to a comet. Stardust's sample return capsule is due to
parachute into Earth's atmosphere and land on the U.S. military's
Utah Test and Training Range near Salt Lake City on Jan. 15,
In the next two weeks, the Stardust mission operations team
expects to turn on Stardust's dust flux monitor instrument,
provided by the University of Chicago, and the comet and
interstellar dust analyzer, provided by Germany's Max Planck
Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.
Stardust, built and operated by Lockheed Martin
Astronautics, Denver, Colorado, is managed for NASA by the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. JPL is a division
of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California.
Last Updated: November 26, 2003