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Surveyor Keeps Going and Going...
News story originally written on September 10, 1997
NASA's Surveyor spacecraft will start orbiting Mars on Thursday, September 11th. Getting the Surveyor into orbit is tricky. If the spacecraft's plunge is too deep it will fall through the atmosphere and be burned up. If the craft's dive is too shallow is will skip off of the atmosphere flying out into deep space (much like a rock would skip off of a pond's surface).
The Surveyor will work with the famous Mars Pathfinder lander and rover. While the Pathfinder rover scouted the surface of Mars, the Surveyor's purpose is to map the surface, atmosphere and interior of Mars while in orbit around the planet.
Some interesting trivia is involved with the mission. The Surveyor probe is as tall as five Shaquille O'Neals standing on top of each other! Another interesting piece of information involves the cost of the mission. The Surveyor mission has a total cost of $154 million. It has a running time of at least 5 years. In comparison, Kevin Costner's movie Water World costs $174 million and has a running time of about 2 hours!
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