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Stardust-NEXT Mission Status Report

October 10, 2007

Artist rendition of Stardust approaching Earth Stardust successfully performed Deep Space Maneuver 1 during today's Deep Space Network (DSN) tracking pass. The spacecraft is nominal as it continues its quiescent cruise. The 3.57 m/s maneuver started at 9 am (MDT) today. The maneuver attitude did not allow contact, so the spacecraft was out of contact for approximately 13 minutes. After re-establishing communications, the telemetry showed all subsystems performed as expected. This was the first maneuver without the Sample Return Capsule where an accurate burn performance was required. The spacecraft's performance was the same as the many previous maneuvers during the Stardust mission. The divert burn in January 2006, the first without the SRC, did not require an accurate performance; the goal was to divert from Earth.

On Friday, October 12, commands will be sent to take images using the Navigation Camera (NAVCAM) in preparations for the de-contamination ("bake" maneuver) on October 18. These images will document the current NAVCAM performance. After the pre-images are taken, we will turn on the NAVCAM CCD heaters to raise the CCD temperature as much as possible prior to the "bake" maneuver on the 18th. The post de-contamination images will be taken on October 25 to measure the effectiveness of the de-contamination effort.

The Stardust-NExT (New Exploration of Tempel 1) mission is to flyby the comet Tempel 1 on February 14, 2011 in order to obtain high resolution images of the coma and nucleus, as well as measurements of the composition, size distribution, and flux of dust emitted into the coma. We have developed a reliable plan to update knowledge of the rotational phase of the comet sufficiently well to have a high probability of viewing significant portions of the hemisphere studied by Deep Impact (DI) in 2005 and a high probability of imaging the crater made by its impactor. The impact event produced so much ejecta that DI did not succeed in imaging the crater.

Last Updated: October 10, 2007
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