Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



Surveyor Completes AeroBraking
Pasadena - February 4, 1999 - For the first time a spacecraft has successfully obtained a stable circular orbit using aerobraking as the primary method for deceleration. At 12.11am Feb 4, Surveyor fired its main engine raising its orbit completely out of the Martian atmosphere marking the end of the aerobraking phase and the start of the primary mapping mission.

The burn was executed at 12:11 a.m. Pacific time when the flight team determined that the farthest point in the spacecraft's orbit had dropped to 450 kilometers (279 miles) above the Martian surface. During the next two weeks, the spacecraft's closest approach to Mars will slowly drift south until it has moved into a circular Sun-synchronous orbit, in which the spacecraft will cross the Martian equator at about 2 a.m. local solar time.

"The use of aerobraking has been a pioneering operation for a spacecraft at Mars, and we now know that we can use this technique with confidence for future Mars missions," said Glenn E. Cunningham, deputy director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "It has been a long and arduous task that has turned into a valuable learning experience for all of us - engineer and scientist alike. The flight team has done a superb job and we're really glad the aerobraking phase of the mission is now successfully behind us. We're looking forward to beginning the primary mapping mission within the next few weeks."

The start of the primary mapping mission has been delayed by about a year due to a structural problem with the spacecraft's solar panel that required the flight team to take a more cautious approach to aerobraking to ensure that the weakened panel was not overstressed.

In addition to making a photographic map of the entire planet during one full Martian year (687 Earth days), Mars Global Surveyor will study the planet's topography, magnetic field, mineral composition and atmosphere.

"Global Surveyor will become our first weather satellite at Mars. During the extended aerobraking phase, the spacecraft was able to acquire some "bonus" science data that has yielded some spectacular new findings about Mars. We now have a profile of the planet's northern polar cap and information about the unique nature of its remnant magnetic fields," Cunningham said.

During the aerobraking technique, the spacecraft uses frictional drag as it skims through the planet's thin upper atmosphere to alter the shape of its orbit around the planet. First tested in the final days of the Magellan mission to Venus in 1994, the technique is an innovative way of changing the spacecraft's orbit while carrying less onboard fuel.

When Global Surveyor arrived at Mars in September 1997, it initially entered a looping, elliptical orbit around the planet that has been gradually circularized through aerobraking. Its winged solar panels -- which feature a Kapton flap at the tip of each wing for added drag -- supply most of the surface area that slowed the spacecraft by a total of more than 1,200 meters per second (about 2,700 miles per hour) during the entire aerobraking phase. Since the start of aerobraking, Surveyor's orbit around Mars has shrunk from an initial elliptical orbit of 45 hours to the now nearly circular orbit taking less than two hours to complete.

Flight controllers will again fire the spacecraft's main engine on February 18 and perform a final "transfer to mapping orbit" burn, which will lower Global Surveyor's closest approach over Mars from 405 kilometers (253 miles) to approximately 379 kilometers (237 miles). After a short period of calibrating the science instruments, mapping will begin in early March.

Mars Global Surveyor is the first mission in a long-term program of Mars exploration known as the Mars Surveyor Program that is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. JPL's industrial partner is Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, CO, which developed and operates the spacecraft. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.

  • Mars Surveyor 98 - NASA portal site to Mars Missions

    Surveyor Reports At SpaceDaily

  • Surveyor Starts Final Aerobraking
  • Surveyor's Summer of Science
  • Aerobraking Resumes
  • MGS Safe After Battery RunDown
  • Surveyor's First Science Program
  • Surveyor In First Mapping Orbit
  • Surveyor Yielding Martian Science
  • AeroSurf Down To 13.2 Hours
  • Surveyor To Image Mars
  • Face Off on Mars April 6
  • New Mars Surveyor Images
  • Surveyor Braking Every 15 Hours
  • Surveyor Orbit Down to 19 Hours
  • Surveyor Speeds Up Aerobraking
  • Mars Duststorm Weakens
  • Duststorm Hampers Surveyor
  • Surveyor's Slow Slide Down The Gravity Well
  • Aerobraking Resumed

    Mars 98 Reports From Spacer.Com

  • Polar Lander Heads For Mars
  • Mars Polar Lander Ready For Deep Space 2
  • Arizona Team Gears Up For Mars Shoot
  • Planetary Society Calls For Vigorous Mars exploration Program
  • Kodak Gives Color To Mars
  • Third Mars Invasion Underway
  • Mars Here We Come
  • Second Mars Invasion Force Ready - Detailed JPL Univese Overview

    Mission Links

  • Mars Surveyor 98 - NASA portal site to Mars Missions
  • Planetary Society
  • Kodak's Motion Analysis Systems Division
  • Mars Color Imager
  • Mars' South Pole

    Mars Coverage at Spacer.Com

    Future Missions

  • Kirtland Recovers Penetrator Device
  • Europe Takes The Martian Express Lane
  • Robots To Colonize Mars
  • Mars Win Gives Goldin Political Leverage
  • GenCorp Wins Mars Test Deal
  • Mars Society Kicks Off August 13
  • A Red Mars Arising
  • Mars Base Needs Local Supply
  • NASA Tests Mars Rover

    Areography

  • Martian Brew Could Be Alive
  • Mars MicroProbe Vacuum Tests
  • Mars Society Kicks Off August 13
  • Crustal Microbes Could Signify Life
  • Dust Devils Kickoff Storms
  • Meteorite Contains No Biological Life

    Pathfinder

  • A Panorama Of Sojourners
  • NASA Bids Pathfinder Good-Bye
  • Pathfinder Reveals Role of Water
  • Pathfinder Science Summary
  • Pathfinder Mission Huge Success
  • Mars Pathfinder: Mission Overview




    Thanks for being here;
    We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

    With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

    Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

    If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

    SpaceDaily Contributor
    $5 Billed Once


    credit card or paypal
    SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
    $5 Billed Monthly


    paypal only






    Memory Foam Mattress Review
    Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
    XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News








  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.