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July 14, 1999

During the past week the Mars Surveyor '98 team lost a valiant colleague and friend, Mr. Paul Sutton, formerly the Mars Polar Lander Spacecraft Manager. After nearly a four year battle with cancer, lasting all the way through the development and launch of both Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander, Paul passed away last Friday (July 9) at his home in San Gabriel, California. He was intimately involved in the development of Mars Surveyor '98 from its beginnings as a pre-project study effort in January 1994, devoting most of his life to the mission over the last five years. His leadership, engineering skill and discipline, and perhaps most of all his strong drive and determination were instrumental in the success of Mars Surveyor '98 to date. Paul exemplified in many ways the best qualities of the Mars Surveyor '98 team, and we shall miss him very much.



Mars Climate Orbiter (MCO)

The MCO spacecraft continues to perform well, under the control of its 8th housekeeping command sequence, designated cc009. Back on Earth, the MCO simulator has been running continuously since early morning on Monday, July 12 as part of the Mars Polar Lander early surface phase operational readiness test running this week. The MCO and MPL simulators together have conducted eight relay contact sessions between the UHF radio systems situated in each simulator. With the exception of some early problems due to timing synchronization between the two simulators, the relay link is working exceptionally well.

Mars Polar Lander (MPL)

This week the flight team is attempting its most ambitious and complex system test and training exercise since Mars Polar Lander was launched six months ago. Thus far the MPL simulator has executed all commands and functions beginning three hours prior to atmospheric entry through the evening of the lander's third day on Mars (called Sol-2), including all science instrument activities and UHF radio contacts with the MCO simulator. The lander payload team has been working two shifts for both monitoring of the ongoing simulation run and practicing the development of new instrument command sequences, in conjunction with other elements of the flight team. While numerous minor problems have been identified with both the spacecraft sequences and team procedures, this test is proving to be highly successful in preparing the team for its second and final phase of test and training, beginning in October of this year.

On Thursday, July 8, the lander payload team hosted another MPL Landing Site evaluation workshop at its UCLA facility. Six candidate sites have been identified within the Martian south polar region for further detailed evaluation, prior to the MPL Site Certification Review, scheduled for August 4.

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