Space

July 25, 2012

NASA Mars orbiter repositioned to phone home Mars landing

NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft passes above Mars’ south pole in this artist’s concept illustration. The spacecraft has been orbiting Mars since October 24, 2001.

NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft has successfully adjusted its orbital location to be in a better position to provide prompt confirmation of the August landing of the Curiosity rover.

The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft carrying Curiosity can send limited information directly to Earth as it enters Mars’ atmosphere.

Before the landing, Earth will set below the Martian horizon from the descending spacecraft’s perspective, ending that direct route of communication. Odyssey will help to speed up the indirect communication process.

NASA reported during a July 16 news conference that Odyssey, which originally was planned to provide a near-real-time communication link with Curiosity, had entered safe mode July 11. This situation would have affected communication operations, but not the rover’s landing. Without a repositioning maneuver, Odyssey would have arrived over the landing area about two minutes after Curiosity landed.

A spacecraft thruster burn July 24 lasting about six seconds has nudged Odyssey about six minutes ahead in its orbit. Odyssey now is operating normally, and confirmation of Curiosity’s landing is expected to reach Earth at about 10:31 p.m., PDT, Aug. 5, as originally planned.

“Information we are receiving indicates the maneuver has been completed as planned,” said Gaylon McSmith, Mars Odyssey project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena,

Calif. “Odyssey has been working at Mars longer than any other spacecraft, so it is appropriate that it has a special role in supporting the newest arrival.”

Two other Mars orbiters, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the European Space Agency’s Mars Express, also will be in position to receive radio transmissions from MSL during its descent. However, they will be recording information for later playback. Only Odyssey can relay information immediately.

Odyssey arrived at Mars in 2001. In addition to its own scientific observations, it has served as a communications relay for NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers and the Phoenix lander. Spirit and Phoenix are no longer operational. Odyssey and MRO will provide communication relays for Curiosity during the rover’s two-year prime mission.

Odyssey and MSL, with its Curiosity rover, are managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Curiosity was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The Odyssey spacecraft is operated by JPL and Lockheed Martin in Denver. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built Odyssey.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

NASA partners punctuate summer with spacecraft development advances

Spacecraft and rocket development is on pace this summer for NASA’s aerospace industry partners for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program as they progress through systems testing, review boards and quarterly sessions under their† Space Act Agreements with the agency. NASA engineers and specialists continue their review of the progress as the agency and partners move...
 
 

NASA seeks proposals for commercial Mars data relay satellites

NASA has issued a Request for Information to investigate the possibility of using commercial Mars-orbiting satellites to provide telecommunications capabilities for future robotic missions to the Red Planet. We are looking to broaden participation in the exploration of Mars to include new models for government and commercial partnerships, said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASAR...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory celebrates 15th anniversary

NASA photograph To celebrate the 15th anniversary of NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, four new images of supernova remnants are being released. These spectacular cosmic vistas are the glowing debris fields that were crea...
 

 
NASA photograph

NASA begins engine test project for space launch system rocket

NASA photograph RS-25 rocket engine No. 0525 is positioned onto the A-1 Test Stand at NASAís Stennis Space Center in Mississippi preparation for a series of developmental tests. Engineers have taken a crucial step in preparing...
 
 

SSL selected to study asteroid retrieval for NASA

Space Systems/Loral, a leading provider of commercial satellites, announced July 18 that it was one of the companies selected by NASA to study system concepts and key technologies for NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission, which is expected to be a key part of the agency’s path to sending humans to Mars. SSL will conduct two studies;...
 
 
NASA image

NASA turns over next-gen air traffic management tool to FAA

NASA image As seen in this image, Terminal Sequencing and Spacing technology enables air traffic controllers to better manage the spacing between aircraft as they save both time and fuel and reducing emissions, flying more effi...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>