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STARDUST Status Report

May 10, 1999

The STARDUST spacecraft continues to perform well and was contacted three times during the past week. The Flight Team at Lockheed Martin Astronautics power cycled the Solid State Power Amplifier (SSPA) to see if this would eliminate a temperature and gain variation seen during the last few weeks. After the power cycle, the SSPA is performing nominally giving credence to the theory that charged particles had built up within the SSPA housing and were dissipated with the power cycling.

The spacecraft attitude was changed 180 degrees around the direction to the sun to point the University of Chicago Dust Flux Monitor Instrument (DFMI) and the Max Plank Institute Cometary and Interstellar Dust Analyzer (CIDA) into the Interplanetary Dust Stream as well as provide better communications geometry for the medium gain antenna. This attitude change went flawlessly over a two hour period where continuous communications were maintained to monitor the turn. Both DFMI and CIDA were powered on into their cruise operational modes. CIDA continues to operate well, detecting a few hits which may have been secondary ion or electron particles emitted from the spacecraft. DFMI produced over 13,000 potential dust hits within an hour and then went into a mode which we had seen last week where we had read errors and incoherent bit patterns from DFMI. Early indications are that there may be a power interface problem. Special DFMI commanding will be performed in an attempt to isolate this problem. All payload telemetry data are forwarded to the science teams for their evaluations and analyses by the Data Management and Archive Team at JPL.

Commands needed to open the Sample Return Capsule (SRC) latch were transmitted to the spacecraft and will be implemented next week, about 3 months after launch as planned. This will allow the remnant 1 atmosphere pressure inside the capsule at launch to be released. The next step for the SRC will be to deploy the aerogel collector in mid-January to start collecting interstellar dust, after our big deep space maneuver.

The spacecraft is currently 47 million kilometers (28 million miles) from the Earth, and traveling at a speed of 101,000 kilometers/hour (60,000 miles/hour) relative to the Sun. STARDUST has traveled over 260 million kilometers (154 million miles) since its launch on a Delta 2 rocket on February 7, 1999.

STARDUST Outreach participated in the Space Day Event held at the Denver Museum of Natural History. A STARDUST display will remain at the museum on a long-term loan.

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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