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Orbiter Glitch Repaired: Mars Landing Will Now Be Broadcast Live

Orbiter Glitch Repaired: Mars Landing Will Now Be Broadcast Live

August 5, 2012 - NASA has some good news from Mars two weeks before its newest rover is set to land on the planet — they’ll be able to listen to the landing after all. The aging Odyssey orbiter is now properly in place and will relay landing data immediately, as originally planned.

A couple of weeks ago, Odyssey slipped from its path during a common orbit-adjustment maneuver, and put itself into safe mode. Mission managers said July 16 they weren’t sure whether Odyssey would be overhead when the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft deposits the Mars rover Curiosity at Gale Crater Aug. 5. They later determined that Odyssey would have flown overhead two minutes after landing. This wouldn’t have affected the rover's autonomous landing at all, just NASA’s ability to find out what happened as quickly as possible.

Now engineers have adjusted Odyssey’s orbit, firing its thrusters for six seconds on Tuesday. As of today, it’s about six minutes ahead of its previous orbital location, and operating normally.

Odyssey is one of three spacecraft — along with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the European Mars Express Orbiter — that will listen to Curiosity’s landing. But only Odyssey can relay data instantly, rather than recording it for later playback, like the other two. It has been orbiting Mars since 2001.

Stay tuned for complete coverage of Curiosity's landing, which is scheduled for 10:31 p.m. Aug. 5 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and 1:31 a.m. Aug 6 on the East Coast.

Clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Curiosity Cam takes you inside the clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., so you can watch the next Mars rover being built.

Technicians assembling and testing the Mars Science Laboratory, aka Curiosity, are covered head-to-toe in "bunny suits." These white smocks, booties and facemasks help protect against Earthly contaminants hitching a ride to Mars.

The camera may be turned off periodically for maintenance. The rover may occasionally be out of view as it is moved around the clean room. When Curiosity Cam is off air, you will see a slideshow of Mars and rover images.


Sources and more information:

Huge Mars Rover Set for Nerve-Wracking Landing on Red Planet Today

Huge Mars Rover Set for Nerve-Wracking Landing on Red Planet Today by Mike Wall, SPACE.com Senior Writer Date: 05 August 2012 Time: 12:31 AM ET FOLLOW US In this artist's illustration, the Mars Science Laboratory aershell capsule is entering the Martian atmosphere. CREDIT: NASA View full size image PASADENA, Calif.

Mars rover Curiosity on target for landing

The Mars rover Curiosity, the most sophisticated mobile science lab ever sent to another world, hurtled closer to the Red Planet, on track for a precise, safe landing on Monday. An artist's impression of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover. PHOTO: AFP NASA JPL-CALTECH ASU NASA officials near Los Angeles acknowledge that delivering the...

How Mars rover Curiosity will phone home

Mars rover Curiosity on course to land early Monday - Washington Post

( via popsci.com )


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