Press Release

Mars Polar Lander Mission Status – 7 Feb 2000

By SpaceRef Editor
February 7, 2000
Filed under

MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE

JET PROPULSION LABORATORY

CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011

Radio telescopes in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and
at Stanford University in California are preparing for a second
set of observations on Tuesday, February 8, to continue to listen
for a possible signal from Mars Polar Lander.

“We have received tremendous support from the observatories
at Westerbork, Jodrell Bank and Stanford. They have been working
around the clock to help us and we are grateful for their
efforts,” said Richard Cook, project manager for Mars Polar
Lander at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

A second round of observations is required in order to
eliminate remaining uncertainty about the operational status of
the batteries on the lander. The operations Tuesday will consist
of two 30-minute listening windows with a two-hour “cooling down”
period in between. JPL will send a new set of commands to the
spacecraft Monday night through the Deep Space Network. An
additional antenna near Bologna, Italy, will also be used to
listen on Tuesday.

Mission managers at JPL theorize that the lander may be in a
different configuration than expected, and as a result the
spacecraft might not have executed or received the commands that
were sent last week.

Results from the listening windows on Friday, February 4,
have not been conclusive. Both radio telescopes at Westerbork in
the Netherlands and Jodrell Bank in the United Kingdom have
operated optimally throughout the experiments. Observational data
from both telescopes have been analyzed extensively, but nothing
has been found in the data to suggest transmissions from Polar
Lander. The two telescopes have a similar sensitivity for
detecting signals from the lander, and thus far all signals they
have detected are thought to be of terrestrial origin.

Analysis of the data from Stanford has also not yielded any
conclusive results, and scientists there are still continuing to
review that data.

Exhaustive analysis of the new data taken on Tuesday will
take at least until the end of this week.

The Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope is operated by
Astron, the Netherlands Foundation for Research in Astronomy, and
is financed by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific
Research.

The Lovell Telescope at the Jodrell Bank Observatory is
operated by the University of Manchester’s Department of Physics
and Astronomy.

Mars Polar Lander is managed by the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory for NASA’s Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.
Lockheed Martin Astronautics Inc., Denver, Colo., is the agency’s
industrial partner for development and operation of the
spacecraft. JPL is a division of the California Institute of
Technology, Pasadena, Calif.

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SpaceRef staff editor.