Mars Global Surveyor completes prime mission
NASA/JPL NEWS RELEASE
Posted: February 1, 2001
"By any conceivable measure the scientific impact of Mars Global Surveyor has been extraordinary. In many ways we now know Mars to be a different planet than when the spacecraft arrived in 1997, and our perspective continues to evolve as the data keep flowing," said Dr. Arden Albee, Global Surveyor project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "In some aspects, we now have better maps of Mars than we do of Earth."
During the primary science mission, the spacecraft studied the climate, surface topography and subsurface resources and mapped the entire planet," said Tom Thorpe, Global Surveyor project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "The extended mission will continue to take advantage of these extraordinary mapping capabilities and the data will be used to select future landing sites for several upcoming missions."
Mars Global Surveyor's extended mission has been approved through April 2002.
The robotic orbiter was launched on Nov. 7, 1996, and arrived at Mars on Sept. 12, 1997. The spacecraft began its primary mapping mission in March 1999 and has collected data for a full Martian year, equivalent to about two Earth years. Those comprehensive observations are proving invaluable to understanding the seasonal changes on Mars.
Some of the most significant findings of the mission include:
As of 4:33 p.m. PST (7:33 p.m. EST) January 31, 2001, the spacecraft had made 8,505 orbits of the planet and taken more than 58,000 images, 490 million laser-altimeter shots to measure topography and 97 million spectral measurements.
The Global Surveyor mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, Colo., developed and operates the spacecraft. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology.