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Mars Exploration Rover-A Performs Trajectory Correction

MER-A shown in basic cruise configuation shortly after faring separation

Pasadena - Jun 22, 2003
NASA's Spirit spacecraft, the first of twin Mars Exploration Rovers, performed its first trajectory correction maneuver Friday. Following commands from the Mars Exploration Rover flight team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., the spacecraft first performed a calibration and check of its eight thrusters, then fired the thrusters to fine-tune its flight path toward Mars.

The main burn had two components. Thrusters that accelerate the rotating spacecraft along the direction of the rotation axis burned steadily for about 28 minutes. Then, thrusters that accelerate the spacecraft in a direction perpendicular to the rotation axis fired in pulses timed to the spacecraft's rotation rate -- with 264 pulses totaling about 22 minutes of burn time. The total maneuver increased Spirit's speed by 14.3 meters per second (32 miles per hour).

At the end of the trajectory correction, Spirit performed an attitude turn that adjusted its orientation in space to maintain the optimal combination of facing its solar array toward the Sun and pointing its low-gain antenna toward Earth. The spacecraft's next trajectory correction maneuver is scheduled for Aug. 1 and its next attitude turn for July 22.

All systems on the spacecraft are in good health. As of Friday at 6am Pacific Daylight Time, Spirit (MER-A) had traveled 27,390,000 kilometers (17,020,000 miles) since launch on June 10, and was at a distance of 2,660,000 kilometers (1,653,000 miles) from Earth. It was traveling at a speed of 32.22 kilometers per second (72,100 miles per hour) relative to the Sun.

Spirit will arrive at Mars on Jan. 4, 2004, Universal Time (evening of Jan. 3, 2004, Eastern and Pacific times). The rover will examine its landing area in Mars' Gusev Crater for geological evidence about the history of water on Mars.

Spirit's twin, Opportunity, is being prepared at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, for a first launch opportunity at 12:27:31 a. m. June 26, Eastern Daylight Time (9:27:31 p.m. June 25, PDT).

Editor's note: As is our usual practice during the cruise phase of deep space missions, we will only provide occasional coverage of key events until arrival at Mars. To track the ongoing status of each Mars bound spacecraft please visit the MER site at JPL

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Spirit Heading To 'Home Plate'
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 09, 2006
Last week Spirit completed robotic-arm work on "El Dorado." The rover used all three of its spectrometers plus the microscopic imager for readings over the New Year's weekend.

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