May 1994, Volume 3, No. 2
Thermal Emission Spectrometer Project Mars Global Surveyor Space Flight Facility Department of Geology, Arizona State University Box 871404, Tempe, Arizona 85287-1404, U.S.A.
As they begin to file out of the building, the visitors are reminded to return a month later for a second Delta launch. An ASU student in her junior year remarks that on December 5th they will see the launch of Pathfinder- the first U.S. Mars lander to be sent since before she was born.
Named Mars Global Surveyor, this spacecraft is a small orbiter which carries only a fraction of the instruments originally flown on the lost Mars Observer. Mars Global Surveyor's instruments include a camera, laser altimeter, the TES, a magnetometer, and radio science experiments. Two other Mars Observer instruments, the Gamma Ray Spectrometer and Pressure Modulator Infrared Radiometer are expected to fly on a second small orbiter to be launched in 1998. At the time of this writing, there are no pictures of the 1996 orbiter available- the final builder and spacecraft design have not been chosen by NASA.
Mars Global Surveyor will launch in November 1996 and reach Mars orbit in September 1997. It will take about four months to circularize the orbit, then it will begin intensive mapping in January 1998. The mapping mission is expected to continue for an entire Martian year- 687 Earth days.
Pathfinder is scheduled for launch between December 5, 1996 and January 3, 1997. Its landing date is fixed: July 4, 1997. Pathfinder is on a faster trajectory than Mars Global Surveyor, and it is expected to complete its primary mission in 30 days. Pathfinder's main objective is to test a new landing system, which includes inflatable airbags- bigger versions of the type found in modern automobiles. It carries science instruments designed to investigate the properties of rocks and soil in the vicinity of the lander, and is equipped with a 6-wheeled rover 65 cm long by 45 cm wide by 32 cm high. The rover will allow scientists to examine rocks that would normally be out of reach of a fixed lander like the Vikings of 1976. Like Mars Observer and Mars Global Surveyor, Pathfinder has a unique Arizona Connection- its camera, IMP (Imager for Mars Pathfinder), is directed by a team under Dr. Peter Smith at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Giant Sand Dunes of Kaiser Crater, Mars. This Viking 2 image obtained in the late 1970's shows dark dunes spaced about 1 km apart. The Mars Global Surveyor TES will be able to determine their composition in the late 1990's.
The next hurdle for the new orbiter and TES: the U.S. Congress. Fiscal Year 1995 begins on October 1, 1994. It may not be known until October 1994 whether Mars Global Surveyor has been approved.
Meanwhile, preparations are moving forward because Mars Global Surveyor's launch is less than 1,000 days away. The new TES will once again be built by the Hughes Santa Barbara Research Center (SBRC) in Goleta, California. The chief SBRC engineer for the project, Steve Silverman, has formed a team of 5 full-time engineers to begin building TES. Greg Mehall, TES Systems Engineer at ASU, packaged up the full-scale TES prototype that had been on display for the past year at ASU and delivered it back to SBRC on April 7, 1994. Engineers at SBRC have begun to purchase some of the electrical components for the new TES. For the next 12 months, electronic parts will be purchased and tested for longevity and reliability. Final assembly of the new TES will begin in April 1995. TES is expected to be delivered to NASA for integration with Mars Global Surveyor in February 1996.
The Planetary Society 65 N. Catalina Ave., Pasadena, CA 91106 (818) 793-5100
Pathfinder if you had the opportunity to do so. NASA gave the Mars scientists the following constraints:
Once you have chosen the latitude and longitude of your Pathfinder landing site, find out what occurs on Earth at that same latitude and longitude. If you landed at that location on Earth, what would you find? How much or how little would you learn about Earth by landing there?
Pathfinder reference material: "Mars Environmental Survey Pathfinder and Network- 1993," Available from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Teacher Resource Center, Mail Stop CS-530, Pasadena, CA 91103.
Topographic Map of Mars, Map Number I-2179 1:25,000,000 scale, (c) 1991 U.S. Geological Survey, Map Distribution Box 25286, Denver, CO 80225.
A new TES News is available approximately every 3 months. This newsletter may be copied for educational purposes. Please share or recycle this document. Text and Typesetting by:K. S. Edgett
Original Text: April 14, 1994 Hypertext: April 24, 1994