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STARDUST Status Report

June 11, 1999

There were no communications with the spacecraft since the last status report. With only one pass per week, there can be occasions when there is more than one week between passes, which is the current situation.

As the spacecraft recedes from Earth, making communications distances larger and with communication rates dropping, High Gain Antenna (HGA) commands are being verified in the Spacecraft Test Laboratory at Lockheed Martin Astronautics (LMA). The first test of the HGA is expected in late June and the HGA will then be used during the first pass of each monthly sequence to obtain high telemetry rates needed to bring back stored science data as well as other housekeeping data which were not brought down on previous lower rate passes.

Excellent collaborative analyses over the last two weeks between Lockheed Martin Astronautics, the University of Chicago and JPL led to the resolution of the Dust Flux Monitor Instrument (DFMI) operational anomaly. When the internal power converter reaches temperatures above 100 degrees C, leakage currents within internal current limiter protection circuits trip the device, shutting down the power converter. It is expected that DFMI will be able to operate again soon, but will have to periodically be powered off as the operating temperature builds, allowing time to dissipate the heat buildup.

As the spacecraft traverses around the Sun, basically pointing the solar panels general toward the Sun, the angle between the Cometary Interstellar Dust Analyzer (CIDA) collector and the interstellar dust stream becomes larger, where in early July the collector will be obscured from this stream by the dust shield near the launch vehicle adapter ring. We are currently off pointing the solar panels from the Sun about 20 degrees to maximize the CIDA collector area exposed to the interstellar stream. In July, when the CIDA detection area is blocked from the stream, we will not off point the solar panels from the Sun, which gives more power as we recede from the Sun.

As a result of the educational materials, experiments and presentations provided by the STARDUST Project, planetarium foundation funding were released to support two additional classrooms at the Longway Planetarium in Flint, Michigan's largest planetarium seating 285 people.

JPL held its annual open house last weekend with the STARDUST Project personnel, lead by the Outreach team, presenting information on NASA, JPL, STARDUST and other small body missions to thousands of excited visitors. A record crowd of about 55,000 people attended the JPL Open House.

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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