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 got to Mars on September 11. The spacecraft had begun its aerobraking procedure. Aerobraking is when a spacecraft drags its solar panels through the atmosphere so that the spacecraft dips closer to the planet. From this lower orbit, the Surveyor could map the entire surface of Mars!
Unfortunately, this aerobraking has been interrupted because one of the solar panels on Surveyor did not open. This was dangerous for the whole spacecraft because it made the spacecraft unbalanced.
NASA decided to put a two-week hold on any aerobraking. During this break, scientists hope to find a solution to the solar panel problem. The Surveyor will continue to collect science data during this break.
Decisions about the future of the Surveyor mission will be made by Monday, October 27. Scientists are still excited about the mission. Project manager Glenn Cunningham 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, ranging from seismology
, rocks and minerals
, and Earth system science
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 on October 29th at 2:19 p.m. EST. The weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit. This was the United States' 123rd...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 want an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting to be...more
A coronal mass ejection (CME) happened on the Sun early last month. The material that was thrown out from this explosion passed the ACE spacecraft. The SWICS instrument on ACE has produced a new and very...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service called forests the "heart and lungs of the world." This is because forests filter air and water pollution, absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen, and maintain...more
In late April through mid-May 2002, all five naked-eye planets are visible at the same time in the night sky! This is includes Mercury which is generally very hard to see. You won't want to miss this!...more