Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mars longevity champ switching computers

Date:
November 2, 2012
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter, already the longest-working spacecraft ever sent to Mars, will switch to some fresh, redundant equipment next week that has not been used since before launch in 2001.

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

NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter, already the longest-working spacecraft ever sent to Mars, will switch to some fresh, redundant equipment next week that has not been used since before launch in 2001.

Like many spacecraft, this orbiter carries a pair of redundant main computers, so that a backup is available if one fails. Odyssey's "A-side" computer and "B-side" computer each have several other redundant subsystems linked to just that computer. The Odyssey team has decided to switch to the B-side computer to begin using the B-side's inertial measurement unit. This gyroscope-containing mechanism senses changes in the spacecraft's orientation, providing important information for control of pointing the antenna, solar arrays and instruments.

"We have been on the A side for more than 11 years. Everything on the A side still works, but the inertial measurement unit on that side has been showing signs of wearing out," said Odyssey Mission Manager Chris Potts at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We will swap to the B side on Nov. 5 so that we still have some life available in reserve on the A side."

In many potential problem situations, the Odyssey's autonomous fault-protection response would switch the spacecraft from the active side to the other side. By preserving the capability of switching back to a fully functional A side, the mission continues to have the available protection of switching sides temporarily and correcting any fixable anomaly on the B side.

"The spare inertial measurement unit is factory new, last operated on the day before launch," Potts said.

Odyssey launched April 7, 2001, began orbiting Mars on Oct. 24 of that year, began systematic science observations of Mars in early 2002, and broke the previous record for longest-working Mars spacecraft in December 2010.

The side swap on Nov. 5 will intentionally put Odyssey into a reduced-activity status called "safe mode." As the team and the spacecraft verify all systems can operate well over the following several days, the orbiter will return to full operations, conducting its own science observations, as well as serving as a communications relay for NASA's active Mars rovers Opportunity and Curiosity.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which shares the data relay return responsibility for the rovers at Mars, will carry the full burden of relay support for both rovers -- Opportunity and Curiosity -- during Odyssey's side-swap period. There will be a reduction in the total amount of relay data returned from Mars. The rover teams will reduce the amount of data planned for downlinking until Odyssey returns to full capacity after the side swap is complete, and will maintain near-normal tactical operations in the interim.

Odyssey's longevity enables continued science, including the monitoring of seasonal changes on Mars from year to year, and continued communication-relay service.

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. "Mars longevity champ switching computers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121102115633.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2012, November 2). Mars longevity champ switching computers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121102115633.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Mars longevity champ switching computers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121102115633.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

AP (July 22, 2014) A Russian Soyuz cargo-carrying spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station on Monday. The craft is due to undergo about ten days of engineering tests before it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

AP (July 21, 2014) NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, July 18, 2014

This Week @ NASA, July 18, 2014

NASA (July 18, 2014) Apollo 11 yesterday, Next Giant Leap tomorrow, Science instruments for Europa mission, and more... Video provided by NASA
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