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Mars Polar Lander Mission Status

December 22, 1999

Flight controllers for Mars Polar Lander are continuing to work through their fault-tree scenarios in their ongoing attempts to communicate with the spacecraft. Chances of recovering the lander remain remote.

Team members plan to continue looking for a signal from the lander through mid-January, and at that point they will be in a position of having exhausted all possible recovery modes.

Late last week, NASA's orbiting Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft began an imaging campaign to look for evidence of the lander, parachute or aeroshell. So far, nothing has been detected.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has appointed a special review board to evaluate the apparent loss of Mars Polar Lander and the Deep Space 2 microprobes. The board will attempt to determine the possible root causes for these losses and identify actions needed to assure success in future Mars landings.

The 12-member JPL board will be chaired by John Casani and is made up of members from JPL, Caltech, other NASA centers and industry. The findings of the board will be presented in a written report due by March 3, 2000. The board will offer its cooperation and assistance to related NASA efforts including the agency's Mars Program Independent Assessment Team.

Mars Polar Lander is part of a series of missions in a long- term program of Mars exploration managed by JPL for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL's industrial partner is Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.

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