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Replay Mars Pathfinder Cruise Engineering Data

cruisemars.gifOn its way to Mars, the Pathfinder team keeps in touch with the spacecraft via the Deep Space Network. Approximately every third day a time has been scheduled with one of the antennas located in Goldstone, CA, Canberra, Australia, or Madrid, Spain for a downlink of all data accumulated since the last contact with Earth. During the downlink, the spacecraft sends back information on its current status, including power levels, temperatures and state of the electronics and other systems on board, position of various stars in relation to the spacecraft (an aid to navigation), and the angle at which it is pointed in relation to the Earth and Sun.

One interesting thing to watch is the cooling of the various components of the spacecraft as it gets farther and farther away from the Sun. Check in each day and watch one or two items cool down!

Another interesting item to keep an eye on is the spin rate of the spacecraft. On December 11, 1996, for example, it was much higher than for any other date (as the spacecraft was "spun down" to its current rate of 2 rpm later in December).

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We are currently replaying data received from the most recent tracking pass.

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