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Magellan Status Report - October 13, 1994


Forwarded from the Magellan Project

Magellan Significant Events for Week Ending 10/14/94

1. Communication with the Magellan spacecraft was lost early Wednesday morning, following an aggressive series of five Orbit Trim Maneuvers (OTMs) on Tuesday, October 11, which took the orbit down into the upper atmosphere of Venus. The Termination experiment (extension of September "Windmill" experiment) design was expected to result in final loss of the spacecraft due to a negative power margin. This was not a problem since spacecraft power would have been too low to sustain operations in the next few weeks due to continuing solar cell loss.

Thus, a final controlled experiment was designed to maximize mission return. This final, low altitude was necessary to study the effects of a carbon dioxide atmosphere.

2. The final OTM took the periapsis to 139.7 km (86.6 miles) where the sensible drag on the spacecraft was very evident. The solar panel temperatures rose to 126 deg. C. and the attitude control system fired all available Y-axis thrusters to counteract the torques. However, attitude control was maintained to the end.

3. The main bus voltage dropped to 24.7 volts after five orbits, and it was predicted that attitude control would be lost if the power dropped below 24 volts. It was decided to enhance the windmill experiment by changing the panel angles for the remaining orbits. This was also a preplanned experiment option.

At this point, the spacecraft was expected to survive only two orbits.

4. Magellan continued to maintain communication for three more orbits, even though the power continued to drop below 23 volts and eventually reached 20.4 volts. At this time, one battery went off-line, and the spacecraft was defined as power starved.

5. Communication was lost at 3:02 AM PDT just as Magellan was about to enter an Earth occultation on orbit 15032. Contact was not re-established. Tracking operations were continued to 11:00 AM but no signal was seen, and none was expected. The spacecraft should land on Venus by 1:00 PM PDT Thursday, October 13, 1994.

6. The Magellan Project Office received many requests for television and radio interviews relating to the demise of the spacecraft. All requests were very positive in nature, relating to the tremendous success of the Magellan mission.

7. This is the last regular Magellan report.

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