The spacecraft remains in good health and is currently
about 140 million kilometers from Earth (17 million km from Mars). Major
spacecraft activities performed this week included a turn to maintain Earth
point attitude and starting battery charge (see below). The total flight
time since launch is now 175 days, and we have 35 days until Mars arrival.
The most significant project activity completed this week was to begin charging the flight battery. Approximately 22 amp-hours of capacity has been taken out of the battery since installation, and the objective of charging was to replace as much as possible. Degradation of the total battery capacity has occured over the six months since launch, but a total capacity of at least 40 amp-hours should still be possible (compared to a pre-launch capacity of 56 amp-hours). A total of 7 amp-hours has been added after two days of charging, so we are already above the 40 amp-hour level. The flight team is currently assessing whether additional charging is warranted.
Completed updates to the final flight software load. We are currently performing a final set of regression tests prior to patching the software next week.
Deep Space Network personnel corrected the final open ranging data accuracy problem which has been a concern for the last several months. This problem involved larger than expected range jitter in the data acquired at Goldstone. The problem is related to a faulty board in the Sequential Ranging Assembly. All ranging data acquired for the project now meets the pre-launch accuracy specifications.
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