Mars orbiter enters safe mode after disturbance

June 5, 2009
This artist's concept of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Image: NASA/JPL

NASA says its powerful Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is in safe mode after being hit by a cosmic ray or solar particle.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is in safe mode and in communications with Earth after an unexpected rebooting of its computer Wednesday evening, June 3.

The spontaneous reboot resembles a Feb. 23 event on the spacecraft. Engineers concluded the most likely cause for that event was a cosmic ray or solar particle hitting electronics and causing an erroneous voltage reading.

Jim Erickson, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., said, "The spacecraft is sending down high-rate engineering data, power positive, batteries fully charged, sun pointed and thermally safe. The flight team is cautiously bringing the orbiter back to normal operations. We should be resuming our exploration of Mars by next week."

The reboot occurred at approximately 6:10 p.m. PDT (9:10 p.m. EDT) on June 3. This is the sixth time since the spacecraft began its primary science phase in November 2006 that it has entered safe mode, which is its programmed precaution when it senses a condition for which it does not know a more specific response.

Provided by NASA

Explore further: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission Status

Related Stories

Pace Quickens for NASA Spacecraft Orbiting Mars

June 19, 2006

NASA's newest spacecraft at Mars has already cut the size and duration of each orbit by more than half, just 11 weeks into a 23-week process of shrinking its orbit. By other indicators, the lion's share of the job lies ahead.

Mars Orbiter Puts Itself into Precautionary Mode

February 26, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter unexpectedly rebooted its computer Monday morning, Feb. 23, and put itself into a limited-activity mode that is an automated safety response.

Recommended for you

New Horizons team selects potential Kuiper Belt flyby target

August 29, 2015

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits ...

Ceres image: The lonely mountain

August 25, 2015

NASA's Dawn spacecraft spotted this tall, conical mountain on Ceres from a distance of 915 miles (1,470 kilometers).

4 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Roj
3 / 5 (2) Jun 06, 2009
That's what you get for using Windows software.
LuckyBrandon
1 / 5 (1) Jun 06, 2009
what and youd rather use an open source so that some guy who just got fired can upload some code strings to put it into the ground of the nearest moon or planet....

this isnt a windows thing, this was programmed into the satellites and into our ROVs as well that if they encounter problems they don't have a programmed solution for, they go into safe mode. This would happen no matter what OS was used on them.
butters
not rated yet Jun 06, 2009
The operating system used is VxWorks which is a real-time operating system. You would never dream of using Windows on a spacecraft. Having used VxWorks myself, it is one of the best RTOS around. See http://en.wikiped..._Orbiter
LuckyBrandon
1 / 5 (1) Jun 06, 2009
that was kind of my thought as well..you wouldnt stick XP on something flying millions of miles away.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.