After solar blast arrives, Mars Odyssey takes sleeping pill
Primary communication link for MSL compromised for now
ORLANDO -- NASA engineers are trying to figure out a problem with one of the agency's Mars spacecrafts.
NASA said the "Mars Odyssey" has put itself into "standby mode," after it detected a problem with one of its gyroscopes.
Currently, engineers are not sure what caused the problem.
"The spacecraft is safe, and information we've received from it indicates the problem is limited to a single reaction wheel," said Odyssey Mission Manager Chris Potts of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "The path forward is evaluating the health of the reaction wheel and our options for proceeding."
The Mars Odyssey is one of two NASA spacecrafts currently circling Mars.
NASA launched the Mars Odyssey spacecraft on April 7, 2001. Odyssey arrived at Mars Oct. 24, 2001. After arrival, the spacecraft spent several months using a technique called aerobraking, which involved dipping into the Martian atmosphere to adjust its orbit. In February 2002, science operations began. Odyssey has worked at Mars longer than any other mission in history. Besides conducting its own scientific observations, it serves as a communication relay for robots on the surface of Mars. NASA plans to use Odyssey and the newer Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as communication relays for the Mars Science Laboratory mission during the landing and Mars-surface operations of that mission's Curiosity rover.