NASA stardust spacecraft officially shuts down operationsMarch 26th, 2011 - 1:50 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, Mar 26 (ANI): The career of NASA’s Stardust spacecraft officially came to an end at 7:33 p.m. EDT Thursday, March 24, after sending its last transmission to Earth.
During an 11-year period, the venerable spacecraft collected and returned comet material to Earth and was reused after the end of its prime mission in 2006 to observe and study another comet during February 2011.
The Stardust team performed the burn to depletion, because the comet hunter was literally running on fumes. The depletion maneuver command was sent from the Stardust-NExT mission control area at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver. The operation was designed to fire Stardust’s rockets until no fuel remained in the tank or fuel lines.
The spacecraft sent acknowledgment of its last command from approximately 194 million miles away in space.
“This is the end of the spacecraft’s operations, but really just the beginnings of what this spacecraft’s accomplishments will give to planetary science,” said Lindley Johnson, Stardust-NExT and Discovery program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
“The treasure-trove of science data and engineering information collected and returned by Stardust is invaluable for planning future deep space planetary missions.” (ANI)
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