Mars '98 Mission Status Report
13 Apr 1999
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
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The science instruments onboard the Mars Polar Lander spacecraft were given their first 'test drive' last week while in flight to the red planet. Five of the science instruments were turned on and calibrated, showing that each one is healthy and ready to perform when the spacecraft lands in December.
Mars Polar Lander will search for water on Mars and study the history of the Martian climate, which may be preserved in layers of terrain at the near-polar landing site.
Today the lander is more than 21 million kilometers (13 million miles) from Earth, traveling at a speed of 3.762 kilometers per second (8,416 miles per hour) relative to Earth.
The Mars Climate Orbiter continues to perform well in preparation for its arrival in September. Late last month, the orbiter completed the final health check for all of its instruments. The spacecraft team is now preparing a comprehensive test for the end of April to update the spacecraft's software for interpreting and processing pictures from the star cameras. These images are used to determine the spacecraft's orientation in space.
Today the orbiter is more than 28.5 million kilometers (17.7 million miles) from Earth, traveling at a speed of 6.273 kilometers per second (14,032 miles per hour) relative to Earth.