PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been restored to full operations, making intensive science observations of Mars, four days after it unexpectedly switched to its backup computer.
The mission's engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, successfully transitioned the orbiter out of limited-activity "safe" mode on Saturday, Aug. 8, and resumed use of the spacecraft's science instruments on Monday, Aug. 10, at 2:32 p.m. PDT (5:32 p.m. EDT, or 21:32 UTC). The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had spontaneously swapped from its "A" side computer and subsystems to the redundant "B" side on Aug. 6.
Engineers are investigating the root cause for that event, which bore some similarities to side swaps by the orbiter in 2007 and 2008. The spacecraft has been studying Mars with an advanced set of instruments since 2006. It has returned more data about the planet than all other past and current missions to Mars combined.
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft.