Today, the flight team sent a command to Surveyor to activate the Mars Orbiter Camera. Over the weekend, the camera team will collect temperature data from the instrument in order to determine the best focus setting for a focus check test that will be performed on Tuesday, February 11th.
Earlier in the week, the flight team completed calibration activities on the gyroscopes in the inertial measurement unit. These gyroscopes are devices that provide critical data to the flight computers regarding Surveyor's pointing orientation in space. Each one of the three gyroscopes on the spacecraft has a primary and backup data channel.
Over the course of a several day period, the spacecraft team examined data from the backup gyroscope channels in order to understand the slight variations between the in-flight performance and the performance as specified by the manufacturer. The knowledge of these minor variations were incorporated into Surveyor's flight software. This activity was performed to improve the spacecraft's ability to maintain a proper orientation in the event that the backup gyroscope channels are used.
Throughout this past week, the Magnetometer science instrument has also been active. The data collected during the week will provide the Magnetometer team with an opportunity to conduct further calibrations on the instrument. In addition, the data will provide the team with an opportunity to study the solar wind. This "wind" is a stream of protons and electrons that are constantly blown out from the Sun at a speed of 100,000 kilometers per second.
After a mission elapsed time of 92 days from launch, Surveyor is 21.51 million kilometers from the Earth, 107.49 million kilometers from Mars, and is moving in an orbit around the Sun with a velocity of 29.31 kilometers per second. This orbit will intercept Mars on September 12th, 1997. The spacecraft is currently executing the C4 command sequence, and all systems continue to be in excellent condition.
Status report prepared by:
Office of the Flight Operations Manager
Mars Surveyor Operations Project
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA 91109