Mars Odyssey Mission Status
March 13, 2002
|Artist's concept of the landing of the first human mission to Mars.
Image credit: Johnson Space Center
Flight controllers for NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft report the
martian radiation environment experiment began gathering science
data today after their troubleshooting efforts successfully
reestablished communications with the instrument.
Engineers have been working since late February, trying a
variety of techniques to communicate with the instrument, which
stopped working in August. The results of their tests indicate the
problem may be related to a memory error in the onboard
software of the radiation instrument.
"This is very exciting. We have been carefully working this
issue, and establishing communication means we now have the
entire payload working," said Roger Gibbs, Odyssey's
project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
The team established initial communication with the instrument
late last week and has spent several days evaluating its health.
Controllers returned the radiation monitor to its science
collection mode this afternoon.
Odyssey's camera system and gamma ray spectrometer suite
are continuing to collect data and are working well. Science team
members reported this week that the camera's infrared and visible
image data are providing "new eyes" to see the
makeup of martian surface materials. Current targets for the
camera include the candidate landing sites for the twin 2003
Mars exploration rovers. The neutron detectors in the gamma
ray spectrometer suite are refining the detail in maps of
near-surface hydrogen and are tracking changes in the
surface as the martian northern winter comes to an end.
JPL manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's
Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. Principal investigators
at Arizona State University in Tempe, the University of Arizona in
Tucson, and NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, operate the
science instruments. Additional science investigators are located
at the Russian Space Research Institute and Los Alamos National
Laboratories, New Mexico. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver,
is the prime contractor for the project, and developed and built
the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from Lockheed
Martin and from JPL, a division of the California Institute of
Technology in Pasadena.
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