Mars Orbiter Resumes Normal Science Operations

Mar 04, 2009
This artist's concept of NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter features the spacecraft's main bus facing down, toward the red planet.

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has fully recovered from an unexpected computer re-set last week and resumed its scientific investigation of Mars.

The mission's flight-team engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, sent commands Monday, March 2, to power up the spacecraft's science instruments. Observations by the instruments resumed Tuesday morning after confirmation of instrument health and proper temperatures.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had rebooted its computer Monday morning, Feb. 23, and put itself temporarily into a limited-activity "safe" mode that is an automated safety response. After analysis of the situation, including ground-based tests simulating the spacecraft events, engineers took the spacecraft out of safe mode on Saturday.

"We have proceeded cautiously, checking the health and performance of the spacecraft at each step as we brought it back to full, normal operations," said JPL's Dan Johnston, mission manager for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The team found that a voltage reading might have triggered the Feb. 23 reboot and that the event could have resulted from a cosmic-ray hit causing an erroneous voltage reading. Ground simulations have confirmed the expected spacecraft behavior due to the erroneous voltage reading. Since the Feb. 23 event, the spacecraft systems have continued to perform as expected.

Provided by NASA

Explore further: Scars on Mars from 2012 rover landing fade—usually

Related Stories

Mars Orbiter Puts Itself into Precautionary Mode

Feb 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

Cassini: Return to Rhea

5 hours ago

After a couple of years in high-inclination orbits that limited its ability to encounter Saturn's moons, NASA's Cassini spacecraft returned to Saturn's equatorial plane in March 2015.

Comet dust—planet Mercury's 'invisible paint'

13 hours ago

A team of scientists has a new explanation for the planet Mercury's dark, barely reflective surface. In a paper published in Nature Geoscience, the researchers suggest that a steady dusting of carbon from p ...

It's 'full spin ahead' for NASA soil moisture mapper

16 hours ago

The 20-foot (6-meter) "golden lasso" reflector antenna atop NASA's new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory is now ready to wrangle up high-resolution global soil moisture data, following the successful ...

What drives the solar cycle?

16 hours ago

You can be thankful that we bask in the glow of a relatively placid star. Currently about halfway along its 10 billion year career on the Main Sequence, our sun fuses hydrogen into helium in a battle against ...

MESSENGER completes 4,000th orbit of Mercury

16 hours ago

On March 25, the MESSENGER spacecraft completed its 4,000th orbit of Mercury, and the lowest point in its orbit continues to move closer to the planet than ever before. The orbital phase of the MESSENGER ...

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.