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Mission Status 2009
Kevin V. Gilliland Stardust Spacecraft Team

January 28, 2009
All subsystems are nominal. It has been two weeks since the successful flyby and Earth Gravity Assist (EGA) maneuver. The spacecraft's trajectory is so close to the Navigation team's design that no post-flyby correction maneuver was required.Following the flyby, communications with the spacecraft is accomplished through its Low Gain Antenna (LGA). The LGA will provide a comm link until February 7, 2009, when the range to Earth exceeds the capability of the antenna. Stardust will be able to communicate using the Medium Gain Antenna (MGA) beginning March 19, 2009, when the Earth-spacecraft-Sun angle becomes favorable. The IMU has been powered off, and the star camera alone is once again providing attitude determination solutions. Using the star camera by itself allows the IMU to be preserved for the Tempel-1 encounter in February, 2011. Background sequence SN020 is executing now, and SN021 is in development.

  NExT flyby plotted against SOAP view of Earth


NExT flyby plotted against SOAP view of Earth Courtesy: NASA JPL

January 14, 2009
Status Report: Stardust-NExT Preforms Earth Gravity Assist

The Stardust-NExT spacecraft started the Earth Gravity Assist (EGA) phase of its mission on Sunday, January 12, 2009. Moon images were acquired with and without the periscope on Sunday evening. The images show that the periscope was not affected by the dust field during the Wild 2 encounter, and will be usable for the Tempel-1 encounter in 2011. The spacecraft successfully went through the EGA on January 14, with the closest approach occurring at approximately 19:30 UTC over the California – Mexico border, with a closest approach of approximately 9200 km. This gravity assist places the spacecraft on its way to comet Tempel 1. The next Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM) is planned for February 3.

January 7, 2009
All subsystems are nominal. Stardust-NExT made contact again today, and daily contacts will continue as we approach Earth. NExT executed TCM-24 on Monday. The maneuver changed the velocity by approximately 23 cm/sec. The total change in velocity was accomplished with a 7 second burn and turns to and from the burn attitude.  Performance of the burn was nominal; Navigation estimates the results are within 1-sigma of the designed maneuver. Commands were sent yesterday to change from the High Gain to the Medium Gain downlink antenna. Analysis of the most recent Navigation Camera images shows that the images are sufficiently clear without more heating, so no more bake turns are planned for this calibration. Moon images will be taken on Monday, January 12. One week from today, the spacecraft will fly by Earth. The spacecraft is now less than 4,000,000 km away.