National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
News & Events
Mars Polar Lander Mission Status
Mars Polar Lander Mission Status
7 Jan 1999
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov

Diagnostic images taken by Mars Polar Lander's star camera confirmed Wednesday that too much stray light being reflected off the spacecraft's backshell and other surfaces had prevented the spacecraft from identifying the proper star field to set itself in a post-launch cruise configuration.

The flight team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Lockheed Martin Astronautics was able to reorient the spacecraft via a series of ground commands so that surfaces near the star camera's field of view are now in shadow. Following this, the team went to work updating parameters used by the spacecraft's fault protection software, some of which had been disabled during the diagnostic process following launch.

After software parameters were updated and the fault protection system was restarted, the spacecraft automatically performed the sequence of events designed to orient itself after launch. The flight team found the spacecraft performed this sequence of events perfectly, coming very close to the intended orientation with the spacecraft' s medium-gain horn antenna pointed about 40 degrees away from Earth. In this attitude, the star camera is now able to identify star patterns and determine the spacecraft's orientation.

The team was completing minor onboard housekeeping chores Wednesday afternoon to fine-tune all other software and hardware elements of the spacecraft's attitude control system. Tracking of Mars Polar Lander will be reduced on Saturday, January 9, from the current 24-hour-a-day coverage to a schedule of three 4-hour daily passes.

Today Mars Polar Lander is approximately 810,000 kilometers (500,000 miles) from Earth, speeding away at a velocity of 3.35 kilometers per second (7,350 miles per hour) and a velocity of about 33 kilometers per second (73,700 miles per hour) with respect to the Sun.

News Archive Search  Go!
Show  results per page
 
 
Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writer: Autumn Burdick
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> USA.gov
> ExpectMore.gov
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 5 Jun 2001