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Flight Status Report

Friday, 15 August 1997

As of today, Mars Global Surveyor is less than one month from an encounter with the red planet. Spacecraft performance continues to be flawless as Surveyor closes the 6.75 million kilometer distance to Mars at a rate of 242,500 kilometers per day.

On Monday, the flight team transmitted commands to activate the Mars Orbiter Camera science instrument in preparation for two days of star imaging this week. Once per day on Wednesday and today, the spacecraft turned to point the camera at stars in the constellation Scorpius called Beta Scorpii, Omega-1 Scorpii, and Omega-2 Scorpii. Over the course of one hour on each imaging day, the camera observed stars within the target area.

The camera team, led by Dr. Michael Malin, will use these star images to determine the best focus settings for a set of long-range Mars images that will be obtained during a three-day period beginning on Tuesday, August 19th. In addition, the Thermal Emission Spectrometer science instrument will also observe Mars during this time period.

After a mission elapsed time of 281 days from launch, Surveyor is 226.68 million kilometers from the Earth and is moving in an orbit around the Sun with a velocity of 21.80 kilometers per second. This orbit will intercept Mars 27 days from now, slightly after 6:00 p.m. PDT on September 11th (01:00 UTC, September 12th). The spacecraft is currently executing the C10 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