NASA engineers temporarily powered down most of the Mars Odyssey orbiter’s systems earlier this week after an anomaly was detected. After two days in its safe mode, a protective standby status, the probe is operational once again.
The anomaly was caused by an uncertainty about its geophysical positioning. The probe had lost its orientation with regard to Earth and the sun. NASA scientists reoriented the probe and rebooted its systems.
The probe’s orientation is maintained by a circuit card integrating three components, an inertia measurement sensor, as well as flight- and star-tracking software. Scientists successfully reset the unit. Odyssey last became disoriented in 2013, forcing engineers to execute a similar recalibration.
The Mars Odyssey orbiter has been circling Mars since 2002. It has aided the search for water and continues to execute scientific missions, but its main contribution is as a communicator and mission manager.
The probe relays data from NASA’s other Mars orbiters and surface explorers, and surveys potential landing sites for future missions.
Odyssey’s communication-relay services will recommence this week, while its science investigations resume next week.
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