At 11:59 p.m. PDT, Surveyor is climbing upward toward the high point of its second orbit around Mars. This point lies at an altitude of 33,569 miles (54,024 km), and will be reached at 1:58 p.m. on Sunday. Currently, the spacecraft's velocity relative to the surface of Mars measures 1,696 m.p.h. (758 meters per second).
The starting point of Surveyor's second orbit was over a location just north of a dark feature called Syrtis Major. On August 20th, the camera obtained a long-range image of this area while on approach to the red planet. This image is available for public access on the Surveyor web site.
Early Saturday morning, the flight team transmitted the T2 command sequence to Surveyor. This sequence will control the spacecraft for the next two days and contains tasks that will configure Surveyor and its science payload for orbital operations at Mars.
One of the first activities in T2 was the activation of the Magnetometer, Mars Orbiter Camera, and Thermal Emission Spectrometer science instruments on Saturday evening. For a period of four hours after activation, the three science teams monitored data transmitted from Surveyor to verify the health status of their instruments.
The magnetometer and spectrometer will now begin to collect data on a continuous basis. Unlike the previous two instruments, the camera must be pointed directly at the planet in order to perform imaging. The first of these opportunities will occur during a 15-minute time period centered at the start of third orbit on Monday at 12:28 p.m. PDT. In addition, the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter will also collect science data during Monday's opportunity.
Surveyor will store the information from the science instruments on its solid-state data recorders. On every orbit, the data will be transmitted back to Earth during two sessions. One of these sessions will occur just after the start of the orbit. The other one will take place half an orbit later, about three hours after passing through the high point.
After a mission elapsed time of 310 days from launch, Surveyor is 158.64 million miles (255.31 million kilometers) from the Earth and in an orbit around Mars with a period of 45 hours. The spacecraft is currently executing the T2 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