Mars Odyssey Mission Status Report
Flight Team to Check Status of Backup System
PASADENA, Calif. -- The team operating NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter plans a procedure
next week to address a long-known, potential vulnerability of accumulated
The procedure requires rebooting the spacecraft's computer. This is not a risk-free
event, but the Odyssey team and NASA have carefully weighed the risks of performing
a cold reboot compared with the risk of doing nothing, and determined that the proper
course of action is to proceed with the reboot.
The chief concern about the potential memory vulnerability stems from the length of
time that the spacecraft has been exposed to the accumulated effects of the space radiation
environment since the last reboot, which occurred on Oct. 31, 2003.
As an additional benefit, the cold-reboot procedure will demonstrate whether Odyssey's
onboard backup systems will be available should they ever be required.
"We have lost no functionality, but there would be advantages to knowing whether the B side
is available," said Odyssey Mission Manager Gaylon McSmith of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif. "We have developed a careful plan for attempting to determine that."
In all the years since its April 7, 2001, launch, Odyssey has not needed to use its set of spare
components. The spares are called the spacecraft's "B side," which includes an identical set of a
computer processor, navigation sensors, relay radio and other subsystems. To use any of them,
Odyssey would have to shift to all of them at once from its primary set of components, called
the "A side."
On March 21, 2007, the B-side spare of an electronic component for managing the distribution of
power, called the high-efficiency power supply, became inoperable. If it is permanently disabled,
then none of the B side is available for use. Engineers have investigated the inoperability of the
B-side high-efficiency power supply. They concluded that the component can probably be made to work
properly again by rebooting the orbiter's computer, although the memory-vulnerability issue that is
the current concern is not directly related to the March 2007 event that affected the power supply.
Odyssey is in the third two-year extension of its mission at Mars. Some A-side components, such as
the UHF radio used for communications with spacecraft on the surface of Mars, have worked as long
as they were designed to last.
In addition to its own major scientific discoveries and continuing studies of the planet, the
Odyssey mission has played important roles in supporting the missions of the Mars rovers Spirit
and Opportunity and the Phoenix Mars Lander.
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages Mars Odyssey for the
NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime
contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. Additional information about Odyssey is
Media contact: Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.