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Stardust-NEXT Mission Status Report

October 17, 2007

Artist rendition of Stardust approaching Earth All subsystem's are nominal as Stardust continues its quiescent cruise. Last Friday, October 12, commands were sent to take images using the Navigation Camera (NAVCAM) in preparations for the de-contamination ("bake" maneuver) on October 18. Due to the low data rates approximately one half of the first image has been received on the ground. Early analysis shows the expected contamination is present. The NAVCAM CCD heater was turned on and its temperature reached its steady state value of 12.3 degrees C. The "bake" maneuver is expected to increase the CCD temperature to approximately 24 degree C.

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 17, 2007
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