A mission well played and an efficient use of taxpayer money too. They wrung every last bit of scientific data out of every last dollar.
Fresh off a bonus flyby of comet Tempel 1 in February, NASA’s Stardust spacecraft fired its four main engines for more than two minutes Thursday, draining its fuel tank as managers said goodbye to the well-traveled comet chaser after more than 12 years in space.
With Stardust’s single hydrazine fuel tank emptied, the craft lost its ability to control its orientation and the probe’s solar panels were expected to lose track of the sun, and officials anticipated the mission’s battery charge would be exhausted within hours.
Stardust was also programmed to turn off its radio transmitters about 20 minutes after the burn, just in case it might interfere with some future mission using the same frequency.
NASA announced the last transmission from Stardust was received at 7:33 p.m. EDT (2333 GMT) Thursday. Officials monitored the burn from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and issued commands from the Lockheed Martin Corp. mission support center in Denver.
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Stardust – NASA’s Comet Sample Return Mission
NASA – Stardust
Hopefully they put some type of return address on it.
/maybe, like a note in a bottle, something out there will find Stardust and bring it back home, as long as they’re good aliens that come in peace
Filed under: Blog Entry | Tagged: Ability, Anticipated, Battery Charge, Bonus, Bonus Flyby, Burn, California, Colorado, Comet, Comet Chaser, Comet Tempel 1, Control, Craft, Denver, Draining, Emptied, Exhausted, Expected, Fired, Flyby, Frequency, Fuel Tank, Future Mission, Goodbye, Hydrazine, Interfere, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, JPL, Last Transmission, Lockheed Martin, Lose Track, Main Engines, Managers, Mission, Mission Support Center, Monitored, NASA, National Aeronautics And Space Administration, Officials, Orientation, Probe, Programmed, Radio Transmitters, Received, Solar Panels, Space, Spacecraft, Stardust, Stardust Spacecraft, Sun, Tempel 1, Turn Off, Well-Traveled |