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Stardust can see clearly now, the contamination is gone
Posted: Fri, Jan 12, 2001, 4:41 PM ET (2141 GMT)
Stardust Earth flyby NASA reported Thursday that efforts to remove contamination that had fogged a camera on the comet-bound Stardust spacecraft had succeeded. Engineers had spent the last several months heating the optics of the spacecraft's main camera in an effort to remove contaminants -- thought to be condensed gases that escaped from the spacecraft after launch -- that had reduced the quality of the spacecraft's images. Left uncorrected, the problem would have affected both science and navigation of the spacecraft when it flies by the comet Wild-2 in 2004. The announcement comes just before a January 15 flyby of Earth by Stardust that will put the spacecraft on course for the comet: closest approach is scheduled for 6:15 am EST (1115 UT) over southernmost Africa.
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