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Stardust Status Report

February 9, 2001

February 7 was the second anniversary of the Stardust launch on a Delta 2 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Station in Florida. Photos and animations of the launch are on the Stardust home page:

There were twelve Deep Space Network (DSN) tracking passes in the past week, and the flight team at Lockheed Martin Astronautics (LMA) reports that all subsystems are performing normally.

The spacecraft transitioned from transmitting on the Low Gain Antenna (LGA) to the Medium Gain Antenna (MGA). This transition marks the conclusion of the Earth Gravity Assist (EGA) mission phase. We are now in Cruise Phase 2. The change to the MGA was performed to provide higher data transmission rates and to return Stardust to its normal cruise configuration. Before February 3, communications using the MGA were not practical since the solar panels would have been shaded due to the large angle (greater than 60 degrees) between the Sun and the panels. Therefore, between the EGA on January 15 and February 3, the spacecraft was placed in an attitude that had the Sun at a 45 degree angle to the panels. During this time period, communications were done with the LGA on the opposite side of the spacecraft.

The Max Planck Institute's Cometary Interstellar Dust Analyzer (CIDA) was successfully commanded to perform the first of three checkout activities. CIDA has been off since October 2000 to help keep the spacecraft cool during EGA. Next month CIDA will begin its second observation sequence to analyze interstellar dust particles impacts as the spacecraft heads into this dust stream. During the first sequence, five impacts were analyzed. CIDA is expected to be fully operational by the end of next week.

The project held its quarterly review with JPL and NASA management and was able to report that the project status was excellent. An additional two-hour briefing was held with David Jarrett, Discovery Program Manager, Paul Hertz and Mark Dahl from the NASA Office of Space Science,the Principal Investigator, Dr. Donald Brownlee, and flight team members from LMA participating with the group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The Stardust mural crafted by students from the Meadow Creek Christian School in Minnesota is on display in the Great Hall of NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC.

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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