No major in-flight activities occurred on the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft this week due to extremely limited tracking coverage from NASA's Deep Space Network. Most of the antenna time for the first few weeks of December will be devoted toward tracking the recently-launched Mars Pathfinder spacecraft.
The flight team is currently preparing commands to perform five tests that will "wiggle" Surveyor's solar array on the -Y side of the spacecraft. These tests will provide valuable data toward determining a solution to the spacecraft's solar array position discrepancy. Surveyor's solar arrays are fully deployed and generating full power, but the -Y panel is out of position by 20.5 degrees. The tests are planned to begin next Wednesday.
The flight team is also working on plans for more calibration tests for the science instruments. On December 19th, the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter will be pointed at the Earth to allow a ground station at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to receive the signal from the laser. In addition, more focus checks for the Mars Orbiter Camera will occur in mid-January 1997. After 29 days of flight, all systems aboard the spacecraft are in excellent condition. Surveyor is now 7.8 million kilometers from the Earth and is moving in an orbit around the Sun with a velocity of 32.9 kilometers per second. This orbit will intercept Mars on September 12th, 1997.
The Surveyor flight team would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Mars Pathfinder team on the launch of their spacecraft and to extend our best wishes for a successful mission.