Mars Recon Orbiter Restarts Mission

The mission was temporarily interrupted when the computer inexplicably rebooted. Perhaps they should have used Linux on the embedded Power PC hardware, rather than the proprietary system they did use. From a NASA press release:

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is examining Mars again with its scientific instruments after successfully transitioning out of a precautionary standby mode triggered by an unexpected June 3 rebooting of its computer.

Engineers brought the spacecraft out of the standby mode on June 6. Cameras and other scientific instruments resumed operation June 9.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reached Mars in 2006 and has returned more data about the planet than all other Mars missions combined.

The June 3 rebooting resembled a Feb. 23 event on the spacecraft. Engineers are re- investigating possible root causes for both events. The new investigation includes reconsidering the likelihood of erroneous voltage readings resulting from cosmic rays or solar particles hitting an electronic component.

Comments

  1. #1 BAllanJ
    June 10, 2009

    Yeah, ’cause Linux has always shown itself to be more robust against cosmic rays…

  2. #2 Ray Ingles
    June 10, 2009

    I know the Linux crack was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but reboots on Mars missions aren’t new.

    Sometimes reliability requires not just a solid OS but a really solid debugging system. Apparently VxWorks has that. I’m a big proponent of Linux, but I’m willing to give the NASA engineers the benefit of the doubt on this one. Since it’s already been running for its planned lifecycle, hardware issues aren’t out of the question, either.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    June 10, 2009

    It was tongue in cheek, but I should note that VxWorks is built by a Linux based software framework. So it is, like, Linux-Tempered, as it were.

    Interesting link, thanks.

  4. #4 Michael
    June 10, 2009

    Hmmmm you would think that N.A.S.A. would plan for little things like cosmic rays in outer space?? Who would’ve thought that they would miss something like that??!! With all these “malfunctions” on supposedly cutting edge, top of the line space equipment, it causes one to wonder. They, and I say “they” as an all-inclusive, conspiracy related term…(you know who you are!!) They can’t honestly expect the public to believe that a mult-millon dollar piece of technology, created by arguably the smartest people on the face of the earth, malfunctions on a regular basis can they??!! I mean SERIOUSLY….c’mon Bilderberg Group, F.E.M.A., C.I.A., N.S.A., with your black helicopters, and you’re worldwide influence….honestly, you can do better than that can’t ya???!!! Oh well….I guess they will continue to treat the general public like mushrooms(feed them crap, and keep them in the dark) until the end of time!

  5. #5 phasespace
    June 11, 2009

    Michael,

    If you knew what you were talking about, you would know that cosmic rays are darn near impossible to shield against with any reliability and still maintain a spacecraft light enough to launch relatively inexpensively. While it is true that space mission electronics are radiation hardened, that doesn’t mean that they are immune to radiation events. You’ve never seen a raw image from Hubble have you? They are full of cosmic ray hits. CCDs tend to be mostly forgiving about such this, but other electronic components such as semiconductor voltage regulators tend to be a lot more sensitive to such things.

    Finally, you seem to be under the impression that because the people that are involved with these projects are smart (and they are), that they somehow have the ability to do anything. That is an absolutely crazy assertion. If it’s so easy, you should build your own spacecraft and send it to Mars, I’m sure you have the ability to do so.

  6. #6 Michael
    June 11, 2009

    Phasespace,

    I see you are just another lemur, playing follow the leader off a cliff!! F.Y.I. I really don’t need to know what i’m talking about to know that something stinks about this whole buisness!!! I don’t care what you think you know, or how many components you have memorized, but there is deffinitely something that doesn’t add up, and im sorry to say you won’t convince me otherwise. You can’t honestly believe that they couldn’t have prevented this, or that , or the other!! You need to realize that about 90% of what comes outta the mouths of those ppl is garbage, and the other 10 is lysol! But whatever …believe what you want…you’ll see sooner or later.

  7. #7 Jason Thibeault
    June 11, 2009

    Michael: I believe you mean lemming. *facepalm*

    Fail right out of the starting gate, how sad. And that’s leaving aside all the conspiracy crap. “there is deffinitely[sic] something that doesn’t add up, and im[sic] sorry to say you won’t convince me otherwise.” <– proof of faith

    Try science. It works way better, not just in life in general, but in figuring out the reality behind any situation, e.g. scientific endeavours like a mission to MOTHERFUCKING MARS.

  8. #8 Michael
    June 11, 2009

    Jason,

    You are a tool, and please tell you seriously didn’t pull out the [sic] bullshit!!!?? OMG..first off, who gives a rats browneye about spelling or correct punctuation on the fuckin net..as long as the point in conveyed!!!?? Obviously tools like you i guess. I’m not tryin to get into an arguement with anyone, i just wanted to express my opinion of the situation, but i guess i have to have a phd in FUCKIN ROCKET SCIENCE to matter on here, or at least a laptop, a dictionary, and directions to the nearest starbucks so i can get there from my mothers basement!! I may not understand alot or any of the technical things you’re all talking about, but i understand the greater picture!! The one that you all seem oblivious to!! But whatever i’ll leave you Jocks of the Geek world to your own devices…try not to spill your soy latte on your keyboard…TOOLS!! OH and yeah i did mean lemmings …..damnit!!

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