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JPL Successfully Restores Mars Orbiter

mars_reconnaissance_orbiterScientists at Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have successfully restored the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a $72 million NASA spacecraft, back to its original computer settings, after an odd glitch had the craft on a back-up “safe” mode.

Launched in 2005, the MRO is a multipurpose spacecraft designed to carry out reconnaissance and exploration of the red planet from orbit.

On Wednesday, August 6, 2009, the orbiter’s main computer spontaneously switched to its activity-limited “safe” mode on a back-up computer for the eighth time since its launch towards Mars.
It is believed that past switches occurred due to exposure to cosmic rays or solar particles, however scientists do not believe that was the cause for this latest glitch.

In a press release, scientists at JPL announced successfully rebooting the orbiter’s main systems Saturday, moving it out of safe-mode, and restarting its main scientific instruments Monday.

JPL manages the MRO, which has collected more data and information than all other past and current Mars missions put together, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate based in Washington. The MRO is on an extended mission due to end in mid 2010.

August 20, 2009

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