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Mars Pathfinder Mission Status

2 January 1997

The spacecraft is currently 8 million kilometers from Earth and traveling at 32.5 kilometers per second. All spacecraft subsystems continue to operate as expected.

Last Friday, we successfully turned the spacecraft's spin axis about 43 degrees to the attitude we want the spacecraft to be in when we perform our first and largest TCM (Trajectory Correction Maneuver). This had been planned for the evening of 3 January 1997.

However, in the course of testing this TCM using detailed models of the spacecraft and the celestial sensors, we discovered that due to the partial obscuration of the sun sensors that occurred shortly after launch, the attitude control software would have unnecessarily fired spin thrusters. Although in no way dangerous to the spacecraft, we would rather not have the thrusters fire any more than absolutely necessary. This problem can be easily solved by changing a parameter in the flight software that will partially reject the bad sun sensor data. Because of the short time before Friday's planned TCM, we decided to postpone it.

Early next week we will send commands that will change the flight software parameters and later in the week we will do the TCM (now tentatively scheduled for 9 January 1997).

Starting tomorrow the team will resume its normal schedule.

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