WASHINGTON, July 26 (UPI) — NASA’s oldest Mars orbiting spacecraft has a glitch and has gone into a hibernation-like “safe mode,” halting its observation of the planet, engineers said.
The Mars Odyssey probe, in its ninth year of orbiting the planet, encountered a problem July 14 with an electronic encoder that adjusts the satellite’s solar arrays, SPACE.com reported Sunday.
Since then, engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., have been able to command the spacecraft to reactivate a high-gain communications antenna. Since the malfunction, Odyssey had been using a slower-communicating low-gain antenna to send data, scientists say.
Odyssey has been beaming data and photos of the red planet back to earth since entering Martian orbit in 2001. It has also served as a vital communications link to support NASA’s Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, as well as the Phoenix Mars Lander.
The aging Odyssey orbiter has slipped into its protective “safe mode” several times in recent years, NASA said.
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