Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Did Mars Polar Lander Phone Home? NASA Scientists Listening For Another Faint Signal

Date:
January 27, 2000
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
Mission managers have decided to send another set of commands to Mars to investigate the possibility that a signal detected by a radio dish at California's Stanford University came from Mars Polar Lander.

JAN. 25, 2000 -- Mission managers have decided to send another set of commands to Mars to investigate the possibility that a signal detected by a radio dish at California's Stanford University came from Mars Polar Lander.

The commands were sent at 10 a.m. PST today. They will instruct the lander, if it is operating, to send a signal directly to Earth to the antenna at Stanford on Wednesday, January 26, at approximately 1 p.m. PST. The Stanford receiving station will listen again during the window on Wednesday to see if it picks up a signal that could originate from Mars. The results of this test will not be immediate and it will take the team several days to process the data.

Mission managers sent commands several times in December and January instructing Polar Lander to send a radio signal to the 45-meter (150-foot) antenna at Stanford. Although no signal was detected in real-time, the team in charge of the Stanford antenna says that after additional processing of the data they may have detected a signal that could have come from Mars during tests on December 18 and January 4. Because the signal was so weak, it took several weeks for the Stanford team to process their data and reach this conclusion.

"This week's test is a real long-shot, and I wouldn't want to get anyone too excited about it," said Richard Cook, Polar Lander project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA. "The signal that the Stanford team detected is definitely artificial, but there are any one of a number of places it could have originated on or near Earth. Still, we need to conduct this test to rule out the possibility that the signal could be coming from Polar Lander."

If in fact the signal were from Polar Lander, two failures would have had to occur. First, the lander's X-band radio that it would use to transmit directly to Earth would have to be broken. Second, there would have to be a problem somewhere in the relay with Mars Global Surveyor that prevented the signal from being picked up and relayed by the orbiter. It is unlikely that a broken transmitter on the lander could be fixed, and unclear whether a problem with the relay could be resolved.

Although the Stanford data from the previous tests took several weeks to process, the team expects to have results within several days now that they know what they are looking for.

Even if the signal were coming from the lander, there is little hope that any science could be returned. However, it would give the team a few more clues in trying to eliminate possible failure modes.

Mars Polar Lander is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. Lockheed Martin Astronautics Inc., Denver, CO, is the agency's industrial partner for development and operation of the spacecraft. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Did Mars Polar Lander Phone Home? NASA Scientists Listening For Another Faint Signal." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 January 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000127083009.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2000, January 27). Did Mars Polar Lander Phone Home? NASA Scientists Listening For Another Faint Signal. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000127083009.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Did Mars Polar Lander Phone Home? NASA Scientists Listening For Another Faint Signal." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000127083009.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

AFP (July 30, 2014) The European Space Agency's fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5) is takes off to the International Space Station on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

AP (July 30, 2014) Arianespace launched a rocket Tuesday from French Guiana carrying a robotic cargo ship to deliver provisions to the International Space Station. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins