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: