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Stardust and Comet Wild 2 Trajectory Animations

Introduction

Below are animations that show the trajectories of the STARDUST Spacecraft, Comet Wild 2, Earth and selected planets over the approximately 7 year duration of the STARDUST Mission, from February 7, 1999 through January 15, 2006.

The STARDUST Spacecraft will make three orbits around the Sun. At the end of the first orbit the Spacecraft will fly by Earth and receive a gravity assist that will boost its speed thus enabling it to fly further out for its second and third orbits. At the end of the second orbit the Spacecraft will be back again at the position where it received the gravity assist from Earth, but this time the Earth will not be nearby so there is no gravity assist.

On its third orbit, STARDUST will encounter comet Wild 2 which, due to its higher speed, will overtake STARDUST from behind and pass it. During the encounter the Aerogel Collector will capture particles from the comet while the Spacecraft Navigation Camera takes closeup pictures of the comet and beams them back to Earth.

After the encounter with comet Wild 2, the Spacecraft will continue on its third orbit toward a rendezvous with Earth at which point the Sample Return Capsule containing the comet dust captured from Wild 2 will be dropped by parachute onto the desert floor at the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) on the night of January 15th, 2006. [Note: In the event of a launch delay, these movies will be updated after the launch.]

Animations

The scale on all animations is in AU (Astronomical Units where 1 AU = 149.6 x 10 6 km, or approximately 93 million miles). The View listed for each animation is given by (rx,rz), where (0,0) is the view looking down over the north pole of the Sun with the x-axis along the vernal equinox. and where rx is the rotation about the x-axis and rz is the rotation about the z-axis, both given in degrees.

These animations are best viewed using full screen and with toolbars turned off to allow more viewing area.

STARDUST Trajectory
Animation 2: STARDUST Mission Trajectory, Polar View (0,0)
Trajectories of STARDUST, comet Wild 2, and Earth looking down over the north pole of the Sun. (457x417 pixels)

Animation 1 STARDUST Mission Trajectory, Sideview (70,330).
Trajectories of STARDUST, comet Wild 2, and Earth looking from 20 degrees above the eclipitic toward the encounter point of the STARDUST flyby of Wild 2. (457x417 pixels)

Animation 3 STARDUST Mission Trajectory, Polar View (0,0) (Large font)
Trajectories of STARDUST, comet Wild 2, Earth and Jupiter looking down over the north pole of the Sun. (577x416 pixels)

Animation 7 STARDUST Mission Trajectory, Polar View (0,0) (Dark Background)
Trajectories of STARDUST, comet Wild 2, Earth and Jupiter looking down over the north pole of the Sun. (521x417 pixels)

Animation 8 STARDUST Mission Trajectory, Polar View (0,0) (Dark Background, Large Font)
Trajectories of STARDUST, comet Wild 2, Earth and Jupiter looking down over the north pole of the Sun. (577x416 pixels)
STARDUST Flyby of MarsDuring its journey STARDUST will pass close to to Mars on two separate occasions. The first flyby will occur in June 1999, and the second will occur in October of 2005.
Animation 9 Mars Flybys, Polar View (0,0).
Animation showing STARDUST, Wild 2, Earth and Mars with a readout of the relative distance between Mars and the Spacecraft. (480x416)

 
 
Animation 5 Mars Flyby 2, Side view (75,150).
STARDUST, Wild 2, Earth and Mars viewed from 15 degrees above the eclipitic looking sideways at a vantage point to view the Oct 2005 flyby of Mars with a readout of the relative distance between Mars and the Spacecraft. (583x442 pixels)

Animation 6 Mars Flyby 2, Sideview (70.130)
STARDUST, Wild 2, Earth and Mars viewed from 20 degrees above the eclipitic looking sideways at a vantage point to view the Oct 2005 flyby of Mars. (583x442 pixels)

Animation 10 Mars Flyby 2, Sideview: (75,150) (Dark background)
STARDUST, Wild 2, Earth and Mars viewed from 15 degrees above the eclipitic looking sideways at a vantage point to view the Oct 2005 flyby of Mars with a readout of the relative distance between Mars and the Spacecraft. (583x442 pixels)


Last Updated: November 26, 2003
 
     
 
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