March 4, 2009

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter working again

The U.S. space agency says its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is working once again after an unexpected computer reboot last week.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., sent commands Monday to power up the spacecraft's science instruments. The scientists said Tuesday monitoring confirmed all instruments were working properly.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter unexpectedly rebooted its computer Feb. 23 and put itself into a limited-activity safe mode.

We have proceeded cautiously, checking the health and performance of the spacecraft at each step as we brought it back to full, normal operations, said JPL's Dan Johnston, mission manager for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The team found the reboot might have resulted from a cosmic-ray hit causing an erroneous voltage reading.

Since the event, the spacecraft systems have continued to perform as expected, Johnston said.