Stardust Memories

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.

Lights go out on NASA’s Stardust comet mission

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.

See also:
NASA and Lockheed Martin Say Goodbye to Historic Stardust Spacecraft
NASA’s Venerable Comet Hunter Wraps Up Mission
NASA’s Stardust: Good to the Last Drop
Inside NASA’s Space Funeral for the Comet-Hunting Stardust Probe
NASA kills off comet hunter
Comet-hunting spacecraft shuts down after 12 years
NASA Retires Comet-Hunter Stardust
NASA’s Stardust set to ‘burn to depletion’
NASA’s stardust empties its tank after 12 years
NASA’s ‘Comet Hunter’ Heads Off Into The ‘Sunset’
Stardust – NASA’s Comet Sample Return Mission
NASA – Stardust
Stardust (spacecraft)

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

Close Encounters Of The Comet Kind

NASA shoots, they score! That’s pretty awesome photography, considering the speeds and distances involved.

NASA’s EPOXI Spacecraft Shoots Images of “Comet Hartley 2″

After a nearly 2.9-billion-mile (4.6-billion-kilometer) voyage, NASA’s EPOXI mission spacecraft has survived its risky rendezvous with comet 103P/Hartley 2 and has beamed back the first close-up images of the comet. This montage of five pictures, for example, shows Hartley 2’s nucleus as the craft was flying toward and under the icy body on Thursday. The images progress in time clockwise, starting at top left.

“Early observations of the comet show that, for the first time, we may be able to connect activity to individual features on the nucleus,” Michael A’Hearn, EPOXI’s principal investigator said in a statement. “We certainly have our hands full. The images are full of great cometary data, and that’s what we hoped for.”. The vessel EPOXI, previously called Deep Impact, traveled 2.9 billion miles into space and captured images 435 miles away from the Hartley 2 comet, which was traveling at a speed of 27,000 miles-per-hour. Scientists say the photos of the icy body will provide them with new and useful information about comets.

See also:
Flight of the Comet
New Super Close-Up Images From Comet Flyby
NASA Spacecraft Photographs Hartley 2 Comet
Recycled Comet-Hunting Spacecraft Is Not Dead Yet
Spacecraft beams back stunning pictures of comet
NASA probe beams in close encounter with comet
NASA Captures Detailed Images of Comet Hartley 2
First images of the Hartley 2 comet
Video shows dramatic EPOXI mission flyby of comet Hartley 2
NASA Spacecraft Reveals Comet Close-Up
First images of comet Hartley 2 captured by NASA
NASA Mission Sends Back Images of Comet Hartley 2
Recycled Comet-Hunting Spacecraft Deep Impact Is Still Alive

Unlike most government spending, which is usually wasteful, it’s nice to see NASA getting the most bang for it’s buck by thinking out of the box and retasking its spacecraft to perform missions that weren’t originally contemplated.

/not only is money for NASA money well spent, but it also creates lots of cutting edge engineering, manufacturing, science, and technology jobs, skills America needs to remain globally competitive