Status Report

NASA Mars Rover Opportunity Mission Status 16 Jan 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
January 18, 2004
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NASA Mars Rover Opportunity Mission Status 16 Jan 2004

With barely a week before reaching Mars, NASA’s Opportunity spacecraft
adjusted its trajectory, or flight path, today for the first time in
four months.

The spacecraft carries a twin to the Spirit rover, which is now
exploring Mars’ Gusev Crater. It will land halfway around Mars, in a
region called Meridiani Planum, on Jan. 25 (Universal Time and EST; Jan. 24
at 9:05 p.m., PST).

For today’s trajectory correction maneuver, engineers at NASA’s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., commanded Opportunity at
6 p.m. PST to fire thrusters in a sequence carefully calculated by the
mission’s navigators. The spacecraft is spinning at two rotations per
minute. The maneuver began with a 20-second burn in the direction
of the axis of rotation, then included two 5-second pulses perpendicular
to that axis.

"Looks like we got a nice burn out of Opportunity," said JPL’s Jim
Erickson, mission manager. "We’re on target for our date on the plains
of Meridiani next Saturday with a healthy spacecraft."

Before the thruster firings, Opportunity was headed for a landing
about 384 miles west and south of the intended landing site, said JPL’s
Christopher Potts, deputy navigation team chief for the Mars Exploration
Rover Project. The maneuver was designed to put it on course for the target.

Opportunity’s schedule still includes two more possible trajectory
correction maneuvers, on Jan. 22 and Jan. 24, but the maneuvers will only
be commanded if needed.

As of 5 a.m. Sunday, PST, Opportunity will have traveled 444 million
kilometers (276 million miles) since its July 7 launch, and will have
12.5 million kilometers (7.8 million miles) left to go.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, manages the
Mars Exploration Rover project for NASA’s Office of Space Science,
Washington, D.C. Additional information about the project is available
from JPL at

and from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., at .

SpaceRef staff editor.