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STARDUST Status Report

May 3, 1999

The STARDUST spacecraft continues to perform well. The spacecraft is currently 41 million kilometers (24 million miles) from the Earth, and traveling at a speed of 103,000 kilometers/hour (61,000 miles/hour) relative to the Sun. STARDUST has traveled over 243 million kilometers (143 million miles) since its launch on a Delta 2 rocket on February 7, 1999.

Lockheed Martin Astronautics testing of the Solid State Power Amplifier (SSPA) temperature variation continues and its root cause is now suspected to be related to charged particles which are predicted to dissipate if we power cycle the SSPA. We are considering power cycling the SSPA this week. The payload instruments continue to require ground interaction. The University of Chicago Dust Flux Monitor Instrument (DFMI), which had been performing flawlessly for over 1 month, experienced bit pattern problems in its downlink last week. DFMI was powered down and the telemetry data is being studied in detail to determine the problem origin (DFMI, flight software, downlink, etc.). The Max Planck Institute (MPI) Cometary and Interstellar Dust Analyzer (CIDA) stopped sending housekeeping information last week after successfully sending this information for the previous week. CIDA was commanded to its low, intermediate and high threshold states without success in attempts to produce new housekeeping telemetry. MPI believes that power cycling CIDA will reset it back to its proper operating mode. The JPL Navigation Camera remains off.

We are in sequence SC004 (STARDUST Cruise 004) and performed a major spacecraft attitude adjustment on April 30 to accommodate solar opposition, where the Earth has recently overpassed the spacecraft in their heliocentric orbits. The spacecraft was rotated 180 degrees around the sun line, and this orientation allows the DFMI and CIDA instruments to face into the interstellar dust stream. Both payload instruments will be powered back on early this week.

Tom Duxbury co-chaired the Small Bodies and Dust Session at the European Geophysical Society 24th General Assembly in The Hague, Netherlands, which was held from April 19-23. Duxbury also presented an invited STARDUST talk titled: "The Adventure Has Begun".

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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