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Mars Polar Lander Mission Status

September 1, 1999

NASA's Mars Polar Lander spacecraft fired its maneuvering engines for 30 seconds this morning to fine-tune its flight path for arrival at the Martian south pole on December 3. The burn began at 10:07 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time and increased the speed of the spacecraft by 2.3 meters per second (about 5 miles per hour) so that the Lander will arrive at Mars one hour earlier than previously planned.

"It is like we are flying from New York to California and with today's maneuver we decided to land in Los Angeles instead of San Diego," said Dr. Sam Thurman, flight manager for the Mars Polar Lander at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "During the next few months leading up to landing, we'll conduct additional maneuvers that will further adjust the flight path, similar to deciding which specific runway at LAX we want to land on."

The landing site, announced last week, is located at 76 degrees south latitude and 195 degrees west longitude, near the northern edge of the layered terrain in the vicinity of the Martian south pole. The Lander is now 36.5 million kilometers (22.7 million miles) from Mars, traveling at a speed of 3.7 kilometers per second (about 8,300 miles per hour) relative to the planet.

Mars Polar Lander is managed for NASA's Office of Space Science by JPL. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.

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