Hey Space Placers!
The groundbreaking STARDUST-NEXT spacecraft has finished its operational life. On March 24th at about 7 p.m. EDT, the spacecraft fired its engines until all fuel was expended. This last act will allow spacecraft engineers to know exactly how much fuel was expended during the entire lifetime of the mission and use this information to design future spacecraft and missions.
This will also send the spacecraft into an uncontrolled status which means that it will not be able to keep its antenna aligned with Earth or its solar arrays aligned with the Sun. Without this two way link the spacecraft is no longer able to transmit and receive with ground controllers and it will lose power - it will be non-operational destined to roam the solar system.
This spacecraft was revolutionary in its accomplishments - capturing cometary material that was returned to Earth for study as well as detailed photographs of two cometary nucleii. It has helped shape our knowledge of comets, spacecraft design and operations. Read More About It:
Farewell STARDUST-NEXT - we thank you.