Skip Navigation: Avoid going through Home page links and jump straight to content
NASA Logo - Jet Propulsion Laboratory    + View the NASA Portal
Search Stardust  
JPL Home Earth Solar System Stars & Galaxies Technology
Stardust Banner
Overview Mission Science Technology Newsroom Education Gallery Links Stardust Home
Weekly Status
Press Releases
Press Kits
Stardust in the News
Team Biographies
Media Contacts

STARDUST Status Report

March 12, 1999


Ken Atkins
STARDUST Project Manager

STARDUST was successfully placed into its Cruise 2 configuration last Sunday March 7 where the spacecraft turns to point the medium gain antenna to Earth for communications at a higher data rate than the low gain antenna used when the spacecraft was much closer to Earth. Also, testing of the star camera was started late Monday in preparation to use it in a "tracking" mode to relieve control of the spacecraft attitude by the gyro inertial measurement unit (IMU). Moving to "all stellar" control will preserve operating life on the IMU for the encounter and other gyro-required operations. After an hour of successful testing, as the tracking mode was introduced, a star camera data-read error occurred causing the spacecraft to automatically move to its previous "safe" mode (Cruise 1 configuration), switching back to the low gain antenna and minimizing operations until it received new commands from controllers on Earth.

The flight operations team moved back to communications with the spacecraft over the low gain antenna and verified that the spacecraft was in its expected state and in excellent health. Late Tuesday March 8, the data history on the testing was "downlinked" to mission controllers so that a detailed trace could be done on what caused the data error and subsequent automatic action by the spacecraft's fault protection system. Detailed analysis of the data and track mode software sequence is underway to understand the suspect operation and correct it.

Wednesday and Thursday, STARDUST was again moved to Cruise Phase 2 configuration that places the spacecraft on the medium gain antenna during communication passes over the Deep Space Networks's (DSN) ground antennas. At the higher data rate, data from the Dust Flux Monitor (DFM), Cometary and Interstellar Dust Analyzer (CIDA), and the image taken by the star camera during the track-mode test operations were brought down. These had been "backlogged" on board during the low data rate Cruise 1 Phase. The star camera engineering test image (first image from STARDUST) shows Mars very bright against the star background as seen from STARDUST's view. The image will be posted on the STARDUST web site (

Last Updated: November 26, 2003
Privacy F.A.Q. Contact Sitemap Credit
FIRST GOV + Freedom of Information Act
+ The President's Management Agenda
+ FY 2002 Agency Performance and accountability report
+ NASA Privacy Statement, Disclaimer, and Accessiblity Certification
+ Freedom to Manage
NASA Home Page Site Manager:
Aimee Whalen

Ron Baalke