Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA's Stardust Burns for Comet, Less Than a Year Away

Date:
February 19, 2010
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
Just three days shy of one year before its planned flyby of comet Tempel 1, NASA's Stardust spacecraft has successfully performed a maneuver to adjust the time of its encounter by eight hours and 20 minutes. The delay maximizes the probability of the spacecraft capturing high-resolution images of the desired surface features of the 2.99-kilometer-wide (1.86 mile) potato-shaped mass of ice and dust.

Artist rendering of Stardust-NExT spacecraft nearing Comet Tempel 1.
Credit: NASA

Just three days shy of one year before its planned flyby of comet Tempel 1, NASA's Stardust spacecraft has successfully performed a maneuver to adjust the time of its encounter by eight hours and 20 minutes. The delay maximizes the probability of the spacecraft capturing high-resolution images of the desired surface features of the 2.99-kilometer-wide (1.86 mile) potato-shaped mass of ice and dust.

With the spacecraft on the opposite side of the solar system and beyond the orbit of Mars, the trajectory correction maneuver began at 5:21 p.m. EST (2:21 p.m. PST) on Feb. 17. Stardust's rockets fired for 22 minutes and 53 seconds, changing the spacecraft's speed by 24 meters per second (54 miles per hour).

Stardust's maneuver placed the spacecraft on a course to fly by the comet just before 8:42 p.m. PST (11:42 p.m. EST) on Feb. 14, 2011 -- Valentine's Day. Time of closest approach to Tempel 1 is important because the comet rotates, allowing different regions of the comet to be illuminated by the sun's rays at different times. Mission scientists want to maximize the probability that areas of interest previously imaged by NASA's Deep Impact mission in 2005 will also be bathed in the sun's rays and visible to Stardust's camera when it passes by.

"We could not have asked for a better result from a burn with even a brand-new spacecraft," said Tim Larson, project manager for the Stardust-NExT at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "This bird has already logged one comet flyby, one Earth return of the first samples ever collected from deep space, over 4,000 days of flight and approximately 5.4 billion kilometers (3.4 billion miles) since launch."

Launched on Feb. 7, 1999, Stardust became the first spacecraft in history to collect samples from a comet and return them to Earth for study. While its sample return capsule parachuted to Earth in January 2006, mission controllers were placing the still viable spacecraft on a trajectory that would allow NASA the opportunity to re-use the already-proven flight system if a target of opportunity presented itself. In January 2007, NASA re-christened the mission "Stardust-NExT" (New Exploration of Tempel), and the Stardust team began a four-and-a-half year journey to comet Tempel 1. This will be humanity's second exploration of the comet -- and the first time a comet has been "re-visited."

"Stardust-NExT will provide scientists the first opportunity to see the surface changes on a comet between successive visits into the inner solar system," said Joe Veverka, principal investigator of Stardust-NExT from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. "We have theories galore on how each close pass to the sun causes changes to a comet. Stardust-NExT should give some teeth to some of these theories, and take a bite out of others."

Along with the high-resolution images of the comet's surface, Stardust-NExT will also measure the composition, size distribution, and flux of dust emitted into the coma, and provide important new information on how Jupiter family comets evolve and how they formed 4.6 billion years ago.

Stardust-NExT is a low-cost mission that will expand the investigation of comet Tempel 1 initiated by NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages Stardust-NExT for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. Joe Veverka of Cornell University is the mission's principal investigator. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver Colo., built the spacecraft and manages day-to-day mission operations.

For more information about Stardust-NExT, please visit: http://stardustnext.jpl.nasa.gov


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA's Stardust Burns for Comet, Less Than a Year Away." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100218151152.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2010, February 19). NASA's Stardust Burns for Comet, Less Than a Year Away. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100218151152.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA's Stardust Burns for Comet, Less Than a Year Away." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100218151152.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Baby Moon 'Peggy' Spotted In Saturn's Rings

New Baby Moon 'Peggy' Spotted In Saturn's Rings

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A bump in the rings could be a half-mile-wide miniature moon. It was found by accident in Cassini probe images. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Americas Glimpse Total Lunar Eclipse

Americas Glimpse Total Lunar Eclipse

AFP (Apr. 15, 2014) A total lunar eclipse, the first since December 2011, took place early Tuesday morning with the Americas getting the best glimpse. Duration: 1:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Showcases Lunar Eclipse

NASA Showcases Lunar Eclipse

AP (Apr. 15, 2014) Star gazers in parts of North and South America got a rare treat early Tuesday morning - a total eclipse of the moon. (April 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spacecrafts Could Use Urine As Fuel Source

Spacecrafts Could Use Urine As Fuel Source

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) New research says the urea from urine could be recycled for fuel. Urea is filtered out of wastewater when making drinking water. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins