Click on image for full size
Surveyor Mission Remains on Target Despite Glitch
News story originally written on October 20, 1997
The Mars Global Surveyor arrived at Mars on September 11, 1997. The spacecraft had already begun its aerobraking procedure that would bring it into a low orbit around Mars so that it could map the entire Martian surface. Unfortunately, this aerobraking has been interrupted because one of the Surveyor's solar panels has not completely unfolded.
The solar panels were being used in the aerobraking procedure to create drag on the spacecraft as it descended through the Martian atmosphere. The fact that one of the panels was not unfolded endangered that solar panel as it was experiencing high drag pressure. This situation was also seen as unstable for the spacecraft as a whole. NASA decided to put a two-week hold on any further aerobraking in hopes of finding a solution to the solar panel problem. Decisions about the future plans for the Surveyor mission are expected to be finalized on Monday, October 27, 1997.
For now, the Surveyor is continuing to collect and return scientific data relative to the surface, atmosphere, and interior of Mars. Scientists remain hopeful about the overall Surveyor mission. Project manager Glenn Cunningham recently said, "The spacecraft, except for the uncertainty concerning the -Y solar panel, and all its instruments are working exceptionally well, and we continue to have great expectations for the discoveries that this mission will return."
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books
on science education!
You might also be interested in:
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more
During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service has referred to forests as the "heart and lungs of the world." Forests reduce soil erosion, maintain water quality, contribute to atmospheric humidity and cloud...more
In late April through mid-May 2002, all five naked-eye planets are visible simultaneously in the night sky! This is includes Mercury which is generally very hard to see because of its proximity to the...more