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Flight Status Report

Friday, 14 March 1997

On Monday of this week, the flight team loaded new parameters to Surveyor's attitude control software. These parameters deal with the alignment of the Inertial Measurement Unit. This device contains three gyroscopes that provide the flight computers with critical information regarding the spacecraft's pointing orientation in space. The new parameters, combined with the new parameters for the star scanner that were loaded last week, will enable Surveyor to point its science instruments at objects with better accuracy than previously possible.

Today marked the first day since the launch of both Mars Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor that Pathfinder's distance to Mars was less than Surveyor's. However, because the two spacecraft are on different types of flight paths to Mars, they did not physically fly past each other. At the time of closest approach, Pathfinder and Surveyor were separated by 4.7 million kilometers. Pathfinder was launched after Surveyor, but will reach Mars first because it is traveling on a shorter, more direct flight path.

This week was a relatively quiet week as the flight team prepared for next week's trajectory correction maneuver. This engine firing will refine Surveyor's flight path to Mars and will take place on Thursday, March 20th at 10:00 a.m. PST.

After a mission elapsed time of 127 days from launch, Surveyor is 41.78 million kilometers from the Earth, 69.86 million kilometers from Mars, and is moving in an orbit around the Sun with a velocity of 26.74 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.

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