Orbiter enters, then exits, standby safe mode

Jul 16, 2012 By Guy Webster
NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft passes above Mars' south pole in this artist's concept illustration. The spacecraft has been orbiting Mars since October 24, 2001. Credit: NASA/JPL

(Phys.org) -- NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter experienced about 21 hours in a reduced-activity precautionary status ending at about 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT) on Thursday, July 12.

The orbiter put itself in the precautionary, Earth-pointed status called safe mode, at about 1 p.m. PDT (4 p.m. EDT) on July 11, as it finished a maneuver adjusting, or trimming, its orbit. Odyssey's computer did not reboot, so diagnostic information was subsequently available from the spacecraft's onboard memory. Based on analysis of that information, the mission's controllers sent commands yesterday morning taking Odyssey out of safe mode and reorienting it to point downward at Mars.

"We are on a cautious path to resume Odyssey's science and relay operations soon," said Gaylon McSmith, Odyssey project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We will also be assessing whether another orbit trim maneuver is warranted."

The thruster burn for Wednesday's orbit-trim maneuver lasted 1.5 seconds, as planned, which was shorter than any previous orbit-trim maneuver of the mission's decade at Mars. The spacecraft's onboard capability for maintaining orientation during the burn put unexpectedly high demand on a reaction wheel in the attitude control system, which prompted the change to safe mode.

NASA launched the on April 7, 2001, and it arrived at Mars Oct. 24, 2001. It has worked at Mars longer than any other in history. Besides conducting its own scientific observations, it serves as a communication relay for robots on the . NASA plans to use Odyssey and the newer as communication relays for the Mars mission during the landing and Mars-surface operations of its Curiosity rover.

Explore further: NASA's reliance on outsourcing launches causes a dilemma for the space agency

More information: mars.jpl.nasa.gov/odyssey

Related Stories

Mars Odyssey orbiter out of precautionary 'safe mode'

Jun 20, 2012

(Phys.org) -- NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter has been taken out of a protective status called safe mode. Remaining steps toward resuming all normal spacecraft activities will probably be completed by next week.

Test of spare wheel puts Orbiter on path to recovery

Jun 15, 2012

(Phys.org) -- In a step toward returning NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter to full service, mission controllers have tested a spare reaction wheel on the spacecraft for potential use with two other reaction wheels ...

Mars Odyssey Orbiter is back in service

Jun 28, 2012

(Phys.org) -- NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter has resumed its science observations and its role as a Mars rover's relay, thanks to a spare part that had been waiting 11 years to be put to use.

Mars Odyssey Orbiter Puts Itself Into Safe Standby

Dec 01, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter put itself into a safe standby mode on Saturday, Nov. 28, and the team operating the spacecraft has begun implementing careful steps designed to resume Odyssey's ...

Recommended for you

New Horizons spacecraft experiences anomaly

12 hours ago

The New Horizons spacecraft experienced an anomaly the afternoon of July 4 that led to a loss of communication with Earth. Communication has since been reestablished and the spacecraft is healthy.

Dwarf planet Ceres offers big surprises for scientists

12 hours ago

The closer we get to Ceres, the more perplexing the dwarf planet grows. NASA's Dawn spacecraft has found several more bright spots as well as a pyramid-like peak jutting out of the frigid world's surface.

User comments : 0

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.