Status Report

Stardust Status Report July 20, 2001

By SpaceRef Editor
July 20, 2001
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There was one Deep Space Network (DSN) tracking pass this week and all
subsystems are performing normally. The spacecraft continues excellent

The Cometary and Interstellar Dust Analyzer (CIDA) instrument continues
to observe the interstellar dust stream with an optimal spacecraft attitude
when not in communication with Earth.

Plans are being develop to take additional Navigation Camera images. These
images will be similar to the recent images that were taken weekly to
monitor the camera’s performance. One of the last images detected about 90
stars and stars as dim as about visual magnitude 12 as accurately as about
0.1 pixels 1-sigma. The next images will be the last full frame images
taken for nearly a year, due to power constraints, as the Stardust
trajectory takes the spacecraft out to 2.7 AU (about 400 million
kilometers, or 250 million miles) in April 2002.

Minor flight software patches continue to go well except for the Navigation
Camera pattern matching and windowing software that was originally to be
part of the flight software capability delivered before launch. This
flight software will allow an expected image pattern of stars, planets,
comets and/or asteroids to be sent to the spacecraft. Only small image
windows around this pattern will be sent to the ground, reducing the amount
of imaging data by 1000 or more. Such a capability would allow us to
continue imaging stars, planets or asteroids deep into the main asteroid
belt. The spacecraft test laboratory (STL) computer is an aging SGI Onyx
that has difficulty handling the additional burdens of testing the
Navigation Camera’s flight software, such as simulating and processing
images. A search is underway to find a newer, more capable SGI Challenger
computer that uses the same operating system, minimizing any transition

For more information on the Stardust mission — the first ever comet sample
return mission — please visit the Stardust home page:

SpaceRef staff editor.