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Flight Status Report

Friday, 2 May 1997

No major activities took place this week. For the past three weeks, few activities have occurred because the Surveyor spacecraft has been configured in a quiet state for a search campaign to detect gravity waves. According to theoretical physics, these waves are gravitational disturbances emitted by all objects in the universe. However, because gravity is a relatively weak force, detection of these waves is almost impossible unless they are generated by massive objects such as black holes and matter at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.

To date, nobody has ever detected a gravity wave. If Surveyor encountered these waves, the spacecraft would experience an extremely small jolt. This tiny bumping motion would cause a tiny shift in the frequency of the spacecraft's radio signal transmitted to Earth. Analysis of the data generated by this experiment will take six months or more.

After a mission elapsed time of 176 days from launch, Surveyor is 92.74 million kilometers from the Earth, 37.03 million kilometers from Mars, and is moving in an orbit around the Sun with a velocity of 23.89 kilometers per second. This orbit will intercept Mars 132 days from now, slightly after 6:00 p.m. PDT on September 11th (01:00 UTC, September 12th). The spacecraft is currently executing the C7 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