Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter rebooting

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is in safe mode and in communication with Earth after an unexpected rebooting of its computer Wednesday evening, June 3.

The spontaneous reboot resembles a February 23 event on the spacecraft. Engineers concluded that the most likely cause for the event was a cosmic ray or solar particle hitting electronics and causing an erroneous voltage reading.

“The spacecraft is sending down high-rate engineering data, power positive, batteries fully charged, Sun pointed, and thermally safe,” said Jim Erickson, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. “The flight team is cautiously bringing the orbiter back to normal operations. We should be resuming our exploration of Mars by next week.”

The reboot occurred at approximately 9:10 p.m. EDT June 3. This is the sixth time since the spacecraft’s August 2005 launch that it has entered safe mode, which is its programmed precaution when it senses a condition for which it does not know a more specific response.

–astronomy.com

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