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Steve Squyres reports in Mission Update

December 7, 2006

A very quick update: We just learned this morning that the Mars Odyssey spacecraft has gone into "safe mode". This is something that can happen when there's a glitch of some sort on board the spacecraft... it puts itself into a very safe state and waits for commands from Earth. Mars Odyssey appears to be in great shape and should be back in business in a few days. A likely cause of the event was a big blast of high-energy particles from the Sun that got to Mars right before it happened. So there doesn't appear to be anything to worry about, and both rovers came through the particle event unscathed. But because we relay most of our data through Mars Odyssey, we won't see very much data from the rovers until Odyssey is back online.

Posted previously by nprev on the Solar Activity thread.
Just thinking the unthinkable here. wink.gif What if NASA were to lose Odyssey. Would MRO be able to take over data relay at this stage of it's mission? Would it impact MRO's mission too much?

I would think it wouldn't take up too much of the spacecraft's resources transmitting a few dozen images per day, that data volume is tiny compared to a single HiRISE image, but the rover to orbiter relay might?
QUOTE (Sunspot @ Dec 9 2006, 05:35 PM) *
Would MRO be able to take over data relay at this stage of it's mission?


Would it impact MRO's mission too much?

A bit - the limiting factor is probably the manhours involved in writing the sequences to do the relay. Consider that a good MER UHF relay pass is 100 Mbits. I'm not sure about the size of the average HiRISE observation, but it's going to be an order of magnitude or two more than that. Even at the lowest normal data rate, 100 Mbits is less than 4 minutes of MRO downlink - so say three passes per day ( one per rover, plus a second on one rover...about average I think) , 12 minutes out of a near 24 hour downlink schedule. 1%. Get to closest approach and it's more like 0.1% of the downlink.

I'm just curious why there have not been any MER DTE image uploads? Does anybody know if DTE has been used at all since Odyssey went into safe mode? Perhaps they are using DTE for commanding/telemetry (and not images).


[added Dec 13: Answered by Jim Bell; Because Mars is pretty much still the other side of the Sun as seen from Earth, DTE was only getting about 1M bit total raw data per day, so no room in the datastream for images]
Does anyone here on the USF forum have any upadate information on recovery of normal MO operations?
The European space agency ESA's " Mars Express " spacecraft can also relay information from the MER rovers to the Earth via ESOC in Germany... ( First time this was done was with " Spirit " in February 2004 )
Some hazcam and navcam pictures have arrived at Exploratorium

Does anyone know if they were relayed through MO, or if they were sent directly, or through another relay?

As I understand it - MO is back online. They had a little X-band downlink, but normality should now be resumed.

I don't want to be a Nervous Nellie, but the Joint USAF/NOAA Report on Solar and Geophysical Activity
for 13 December forecasts a major to severe geomagnetic storm for Earth on December 14 and 15. I don't know if Earth and Mars are in relative positions to be hit by the same solar flare, but considering solar activity probably put Odyssey in the last safe mode...well, let's just be prepared for anything. Info can be accessed through Nasawatch.

'tis the season...
That CME/Flare was more Earth directed, Mars is in the opposite direction.
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