Flight controllers for NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory report that the spacecraft is doing fine after the reset of one of its on-board computers Tuesday, possibly caused by a solar flare.
"The spacecraft is in excellent condition and back in its normal operating mode," said David A. Spencer, Odyssey's mission manager at JPL. "We are looking into the possibility that intensified solar activity may have affected data in the on-board memory." The affected data in the computer memory is believed to be the cause of the computer reset that happened Tuesday morning. Preliminary data analysis indicates that a reset of the on-board flight computer caused the entry into "safe mode." The spacecraft returned to normal operations Wednesday morning.
Prior to the safing event on Tuesday, the spacecraft transitioned to its cruise attitude where it points its high-gain antenna toward the Earth. On Monday, the team turned on the Martian radiation environment experiment and Wednesday they turned on the electronics for the gamma ray spectrometer instrument.
Today, 20 days after launch, Odyssey is about 5.8 million kilometers (3.6 million miles) from Earth and traveling at a speed of about 39 kilometers per second (about 69,300 miles per hour) relative to the Sun.
The Mars Odyssey mission is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. The Odyssey spacecraft was built by Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, Colo.