Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Phoenix Mission Update: Solar Panels Adjusted

"Phoenix Lander Adjusts Solar Panels"
Tuscon Citizen, November 5, 2007
By Alan Fischer

"The Phoenix Mars Lander mission spacecraft, zooming through space at 68,628 mph, will make a positioning adjustment Tuesday to allow its solar panels to obtain more energy from the sun.

During the first three months of the University of Arizona-led mission, which launched Aug. 4, the spacecraft's solar panels were not pointed directly at the sun, said Barry Goldstein, Phoenix project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

The closer proximity to the sun's power would have overwhelmed the spacecraft's electrical systems had the panels been working at full capacity, he said.

With the spacecraft having covered 165 million miles of its 423 million mile journey to Mars, it receives less power as its distance from the sun increases.

The craft's thruster engines will be fired for a few seconds Tuesday morning to move the spacecraft into late cruise attitude and point the solar panels more directly at the sun, he said.

The spacecraft also recently did a second trajectory correction maneuver that put it on course to be captured by the Martian gravitation field as it nears the planet, Goldstein said.

The spacecraft's original course was set from launch so that it would avoid hitting the planet if control problems arose, he said.

"We are now on a trajectory that will take us to a Martian landing," he said
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Read the entire article by Alan Fischer

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