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Mars Pathfinder Mission Status

16 May 1997

The spacecraft remains in good health and is currently about 115 million kilometers from Earth (26 million km from Mars). The only major spacecraft activity performed this week was a battery heating and solar array characterization test. The total flight time since launch is now 163 days, and we have 49 days until Mars arrival.

Successfully completed the Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) and Surface Operations Readiness Review. The review board, led by Mike Sander, asked many useful questions and generated several advisories, but agreed that the project will be ready for pre-entry and surface operations by July 4.

Completed the second of three EDL Operations Readiness Tests (ORT). This test used the testbed to simulate all pre-EDL operations, including TCM-5a. In addition, we conducted a simultaneous EDL communications ORT using the actual spacecraft to simulate the telecom behavior during EDL. Several members of the EDL data acquisition team traveled to Madrid to support this test. Although a number of lessons were learned during the ORT, both the data acquisition and pre-EDL operations teams completed the test successfully.

Completed a set of surface operations mini-ORTs which tested our strategy for petal movements after landing, end-to-end image processing and rover target designation, and the ramp deployment decision process. These three issues were among the most significant concerns in ORT #5, and appear to be resolved at this point.

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