Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now Join Now!

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

   Please leave this field empty
Blogs

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Stardust mission update: 38 days to Tempel 1

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

07-01-2011 10:25 CST

Topics: mission status, comet Tempel 1, Stardust

The Stardust mission posts regular status updates to its website but they're a bit buried, so I'm glad for the watchful members of unmannedspaceflight.com who point them out as soon as they're posted. The latest update, dated yesterday, says that the spacecraft is healthy after performing a "cold boot" to clear a memory address problem (a "memory address latch-up") that occurred late last year and caused the spacecraft to go into safe mode three times. "This cold boot clears the latched line and resets the memory to its factory settings. The activity, performed on January 4 went exactly as expected, and the spacecraft is now back in its comet approach configuration, ready to take the next set of Optical Navigation images on January 6."

However, there are some new challenges facing Stardust: they have downgraded their estimate of how much maneuvering fuel remains onboard the spacecraft, and they could not find Tempel 1 in their first two sets of optical navigation images collected in December. "Current estimates show that the comet may not be bright enough to detect with the Navcam until the latter half of January. Since optical navigation is key to the approach targeting, the trajectory correction maneuver plan has changed to accommodate this information."

So here is a timeline for the approach phase of the mission based on the rest of the status update.

DateEvent
January 6 Daily Optical Navigation imaging begins
January 31 Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM) 31
February 7 TCM 32
February 7 Approach science imaging begins
February 12
-48 hours
TCM 33
February 14 Encounter

The update says: "This new plan accommodates positive fuel margin through encounter, preserves fuel reserves to accommodate larger than expected deviations in the comet ephemeris estimates, and places the TCMs at times best able to accommodate late detection of the comet. The spacecraft team is completing the tests of the approach and flyby sequences, and is building the approach sequences that will control the spacecraft over the next several weeks."

Stardust

NASA / JPL / UMD

Stardust

 
See other posts from January 2011

 

Or read more blog entries about: mission status, comet Tempel 1, Stardust

Comments:

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

JOIN THE
PLANETARY SOCIETY

Our Curiosity Knows No Bounds!

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Us

Featured Images

Philae's selected landing site

Many Rosetta NavCam views of the selected Philae landing site
Primary and backup landing sites for Philae (spinning shape model)
3D view of Philae's selected landing site
More Images

Featured Video

View Larger »

Fly to an Asteroid!

Travel to Bennu on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft!

Send your name

Join the New Millennium Committee

Let’s invent the future together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook! Twitter! Google+ and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!