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STARDUST Status Report

March 5, 1999


Ken Atkins
STARDUST Project Manager

STARDUST continues to demonstrate excellent flight performance. Subsystems are performing nominally. The high commanding pace (126 command files in 21 days) has slowed down. This is due to the planned reduction in Deep Space Network (DSN) coverage -- two 4-hour passes per day -- and the timing of the coverage. The spacecraft is currently flying in a 45 degree Sun off-point attitude. This attitude will generally be maintained since plenty of power margin is available and this attitude will allow a minimum slew to get the medium gain antenna (MGA) on Earth point. Going to the MGA is necessary as the distance to Earth increases and the spacecraft, Earth, sun geometry continues to change. The planned transition to MGA operations is next week.

Review and testing of the commands to move the spacecraft off the inertial measurement units (IMU's) to all stellar references for attitude control for the next cruise configuration was completed. This configuration involves executing the minimum slew to get the MGA on Earth point during each communication session (pass) and then returning to the desired sun angle at the session end.

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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