Engineers for NASA's Mars Odyssey mission are examining data from the orbiter to determine whether onboard backup systems never used by the 6-year-old spacecraft could still be available if needed.
Odyssey reported last week that a power processing component of the backup, or "B-side," systems had stopped working. The component, the high-efficiency power supply, has a twin that is continuing to serve the "A-side" hardware, which is operating normally. Odyssey has stayed on its A-side systems, including the A-side flight computer, since launch on April 7, 2001. However, the A-side power supply cannot serve most systems on the B-side, including the backup B-side computer. If engineers do not determine a way to restore the B-side power supply, most of the backup hardware would not be available, if it were ever needed.
Odyssey is in its second extended mission. The orbiter is conducting scientific observations and also serving as the primary communications relay for NASA's Mars rovers. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Odyssey Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft.