[meteorite-list] Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Status Report - November 13, 2007

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Fri, 16 Nov 2007 13:14:53 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <200711162114.NAA12695_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Status Report
November 13, 2007

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter put itself into a safe standby mode
Wed., Nov. 7, after the on-board computer detected that one of the solar
panels was moving slower than had been commanded.

The solar panels subsequently have been moving properly, and engineers
are working to restore the orbiter to full operations so it can continue
scientific observations. At the beginning of this month, the mission
completed the first full year of its two-year primary science phase.

Two large solar panels supply Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's electrical
power. Each panel pivots at motorized mechanisms called gimbals where
the panel is attached to the spacecraft. The panels are reoriented
continuously to keep facing the sun as the spacecraft orbits Mars.

Fault detection software recognized that one gimbal was not maintaining
the expected speed. The software properly put the spacecraft into a mode
of suspending unnecessary activities and waiting to hear from ground
controllers. Preliminary analysis indicates the slower gimbal motion
resulted when keepout-zone software, designed to prevent the panels from
coming too close to other components, allowed a panel to touch thermal
blanketing on the spacecraft. While preparing the orbiter to resume
science observations, engineers are also determining how to ensure that
the spacecraft correctly manages the solar panels and maintains a safe
distance between spacecraft parts.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reached Mars on March 10, 2006, and began
its primary science phase after using hundreds of controlled dips into
the Martian atmosphere to adjust the size and shape of its orbit. The
spacecraft has returned about 30 terabits of science data, including
more than 15,000 images from three cameras, more than 3,000 targeted
observations by a mineral-mapping spectrometer, and more than 2,200
observations with ground-penetrating radar.

Received on Fri 16 Nov 2007 04:14:53 PM PST

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