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 September 19, 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 September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boeing, SpaceX to Send Astronauts to Space Station

Boeing, SpaceX to Send Astronauts to Space Station

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) — NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX on Tuesday to build America's next spacecraft to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) by 2017, opening the way to a new chapter in human spaceflight. Duration: 01:13 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

East Coast Treated To Rare Meteor Sighting

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — Numerous residents along the East Coast reported seeing a bright meteor flash through the sky Sunday night. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Picks Boeing and SpaceX to Ferry Astronauts

NASA Picks Boeing and SpaceX to Ferry Astronauts

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — NASA is a giant step closer to launching Americans again from U.S. soil. It has announced it has picked Boeing and SpaceX to transport astronauts to the International Space Station in the next few years. (Sept. 16) 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