From: (Ron Baalke)
Subject: Mars Relay Flight Test - Public May Participate!
Date: 27 Dec 1995 16:46:48 -0800
Organization: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
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The Public May Participate!

(Preliminary Information - 12/14/95)

With the launch of Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) in November of 1996, NASA with
begin a decade long exploration of the Red Planet. With the program managed by
the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), NASA plans to launch two spacecraft to
Mars every alignment opportunity (approximately every two years). These
missions will include a combination of orbiters and landers to explore Mars in
a comprehensive and systematic way. To provide data communication capabilities
between several of the landed systems to be placed on the surface of Mars and
the spacecraft in orbit, many of the orbiters will carry UHF radio relays.

MGS will carry such a relay, called the Mars Relay. The Mars Relay will provide
communication support, at first, between several Russian small lander stations
on the surface of Mars and the orbiting Mars Global Surveyor. Then future
missions planned for launch in 1998 and beyond will also be able to exploit
this relay on MGS for surface data return.

During the Mars Global Surveyor Mission, JPL plans to perform a near-Earth
test of the Mars Relay. Sometime around 20 to 30 days after launch of MGS in
November of 1996, JPL will initiate a test of the Relay employing UHF
communication equipment on the Earth. Because the Relay operates at frequencies
in the 70 cm band, an opportunity exists for student and amateur participation
in the near-Earth test of the Mars Relay. Using 70 cm antennas, individuals
will be able to listen for a 1.3-watt beacon operating from the spacecraft on
437.1 MHz at a distance of 8 million kilometers (20 times the distance to the
Moon) - the ultimate DX!

Stay tuned to the Mars Global Surveyor Home Page for further details on how to 
participate in the test: