As of January 31, 1998, the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft has completed 112 orbits of Mars, during which it has reduced its orbital period from 45 to 19 hrs. The local time at the equator of the orbit has decreased from roughly 6 PM to about 12:30 PM. On February 16, the sun will be in the orbit plane (that is, local noon); thereafter, the orbits will be in the "morning" rather than the "afternoon." The spacecraft remains healthy and operating nominally. For more information about the spacecraft and mission, visit the Mars Global Surveyor Project Web Site.
The Mars Orbiter Camera has been imaging the planet each orbit, shortly after passing through the atmosphere. To image, the spacecraft rotates and sweeps the camera's field-of-view across the planet. After using relatively long "rollouts" (25 minutes) to acquire pictures of the southern hemisphere earlier in January, by month's end the rollouts had been shortened to 6 minutes owing to spacecraft power limitations. Only images between about 10°N and 7°S can be taken at present. Continued power conservation and increasing spacecraft team workload associated with shorter orbits may require turning the camera off soon. However, mission designers and spacecraft systems engineers are working with the MOC team to find ways to continue imaging.
Click on images or the name below each image to proceed to that release.
Nanedi Vallis: Possible evidence of sustained flow (Orbit 87, Image 4)
Malin Space Science Systems and the California Institute of Technology built the MOC using spare hardware from the Mars Observer mission. MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, CA. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Surveyor Operations Project operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena, CA and Denver, CO.
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