PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Mars Pathfinder Mission Status
August 18, 1997
4 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time
Daily communications with the Mars Pathfinder lander and
rover have resumed after an interruption on Saturday, Aug. 16,
that was caused by an automatic reset of the lander's flight
computer. The cause of the reset is not known, said Mars
Pathfinder Flight Director Rob Manning.
The flight team was able to reactivate the lander by sending
it instructions to reinitialize high-gain pointing and then begin
its scheduled downlink session on Sunday evening. The downlink
session began right on time at 10:09 p.m. PDT Aug. 17.
New images indicated that the rover had stopped its traverse
to a rock nicknamed Shark after partially climbing up a rock
called Wedge. The rover's hazard avoidance software is designed
to stop the vehicle when it begins to tilt too much. Wedge is one
of many small rocks forming a gateway to the Rock Garden, which
is Sojourner's next destination. This portion of the landing
site is more challenging than other regions because it is much
rockier than any terrain explored to date by the rover.
The flight team will instruct Sojourner to continue its trek
to Shark tonight. Shark is of interest to scientists because it
is a large, smooth rock, which is relatively dust-free and,
therefore, an ideal candidate for the next spectrometer analysis.
Shark is part of a cluster of large rocks standing straight up
from the ground, but leaning slight to the left. Scientists have
theorized that these large, angular rocks may have been tilted by
a huge flood which swept through Ares Vallis early in Mars'
Twenty-six megabits of data were received last night, on Sol
44 of the Pathfinder mission. The data included rover health
status data, meteorological data and three additional sections of
the "super" panorama.