Today, in an activity similar to the one that occurred last week, the Surveyor spacecraft rotated to a position that pointed the Mars Orbiter Camera at a cluster of stars called the Pleiades. Over the course of an hour, the camera imaged stars within the cluster. Images from today's opportunity, combined with three image sets that will be taken between February 24th and February 28th, will allow the camera team to determine settings to control the instrument's focus.
Other major events this week included a complete memory read-out of Surveyor's on-board flight computers on Monday. During this activity, the flight team commanded the spacecraft's computers to transmit the contents of its memory banks back to Earth. The read-out was performed to allow the flight team to verify the values of critical flight software parameters that control the spacecraft. Because some of these parameters are periodically updated, the results of the memory read-out were entered into a tracking system that provides a historical record of the changes. Monday's activity was only the second time during the mission that the memory has been completely read out.
After a mission elapsed time of 106 days from launch, Surveyor is 27.71 million kilometers from the Earth, 90.93 million kilometers from Mars, and is moving in an orbit around the Sun with a velocity of 28.25 kilometers per second. This orbit will intercept Mars on September 12th, 1997. The spacecraft is currently executing the C5 command sequence, and all systems continue to be in excellent condition.
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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