Switch to the B-Side: It’s not only Mars rover Opportunity that is outliving its planned mission lifetime by years. Orbiting high above the Red Planet’s surface is another Martian warrior: NASA’s Mars Odyssey. The satellite arrived at Mars in 2001 and it’s still going strong, doing science and relaying critical data to and from current surface missions — including Mars rover Curiosity.
But this week, the spacecraft stopped transmitting data — it was giving itself a brain transplant.
As with most space missions, our robotic explorers have back-up and redundant systems that can be switched on in the event of the primary system failing. As Odyssey has been using the same computer for is operations for over a decade, mission managers decided to switch all operations to the secondary computer, or the B-side. The A-side was showing signs of age and recent troubles with the A-side’s gyroscope hastened the need for the swap.
“The side-swap has gone well. All the subsystems that we are using for the first time are performing as intended,” said Odyssey Project Manager Gaylon McSmith of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. via Red Orbit