Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Test of spare wheel puts NASA's Mars Odysse orbiter on path to recovery

Date:
June 15, 2012
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
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 in adjusting and maintaining the spacecraft's orientation.

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

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 in adjusting and maintaining the spacecraft's orientation.

After more than 11 years of non-operational storage, the spare reaction wheel passed preliminary tests on Wednesday, June 12, spinning at up to 5,000 rotations per minute forward and backward. Odyssey engineers plan to substitute it for a reaction wheel they have assessed as no longer reliable. That wheel stuck for a few minutes last week, causing Odyssey to put itself into safe mode on June 8, Universal Time (June 7, Pacific Time). Safe mode is a precautionary status with reduced activity.

"We are taking steps to assess the replacement of the troublesome wheel with the spare that Odyssey has been carrying for exactly this purpose," said Mars Odyssey Project Manager Gaylon McSmith of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "If the assessment results are positive, this will put us on a path toward resuming full use of Odyssey."

Like many other spacecraft, Odyssey uses a set of three reaction wheels to control its attitude, or which way it is facing relative to the sun, Earth or Mars. Increasing the rotation rate of a reaction wheel inside the spacecraft causes the spacecraft itself to rotate in the opposite direction. The configuration in use since launch combines the effects of three wheels at right angles to each other to provide control in all directions. The orbiter carries a fourth reaction wheel skewed at angles to all three others so that it can be used as a substitute for any one of them. This spare wheel had not rotated since before Odyssey's April 7, 2001, launch.

Odyssey can also use thrusters to control its attitude. Reaction wheels offer the advantage of running on renewable electricity from the orbiter's solar array, rather than drawing on the finite supply of thruster fuel. They also provide more precise control of pointing, which can enable higher data-rate communications through the orbiter's directional antenna.

Odyssey has worked at Mars for more than 10 years, which is longer than any other Mars mission in history. Besides conducting its own scientific observations, it serves as a communication relay for robots on the Martian surface. NASA plans to use Odyssey and the newer Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as communication relays for the Mars Science Laboratory mission during the landing and Mars-surface operations of that mission's Curiosity rover.

Odyssey is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft. JPL and Lockheed Martin collaborate on operating the spacecraft. For more about the Mars Odyssey mission, visit: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/odyssey .


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Test of spare wheel puts NASA's Mars Odysse orbiter on path to recovery." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120615114643.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2012, June 15). Test of spare wheel puts NASA's Mars Odysse orbiter on path to recovery. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120615114643.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Test of spare wheel puts NASA's Mars Odysse orbiter on path to recovery." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120615114643.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Captured by International Space Station

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 20, 2014) SpaceX's unmanned Dragon spacecraft makes a scheduled Easter Sunday rendezvous with the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station

Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station

AP (Apr. 20, 2014) Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The SpaceX company's cargo ship, Dragon, spent two days chasing the International Space Station following its launch from Cape Canaveral. (April 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Hoax? Cosmetics Company Wants To Brighten The Moon

A Hoax? Cosmetics Company Wants To Brighten The Moon

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) FOREO, a Swedish cosmetics company, says it wants to brighten the moon to lower electricity costs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station

Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) On it's second attempt this week, The Space X company launched Friday from Cape Canaveral to ferry supplies to the International Space Station. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins