Feeds

Mars Global Surveyor goes AWOL

No comms for a week

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

NASA engineers have not been able to contact the agency's Mars Global Surveyor space craft for more than a week. Speculation is mounting that the craft, which has been in orbit around the red planet for the better part of a decade, might be entering a terminal decline.

The craft's communications with Earth petered out over several days. The last contact was on 5 November, two days after NASA instructed the craft to reposition its solar arrays to make the most of the sunlight.

After that instruction, the craft returned data that suggested it had a problem with a motor. NASA engineers sent a command that should have switched on a backup control circuits and motor, but apart from a weak signal on the 5th, they heard nothing in reply.

Engineers have asked for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to take a picture of the Surveyor to see if there are any visual clues to what has gone wrong.

The working theory is that the orbiter has switched itself into safe mode and turned towards the sun to conserve power. It is possible that in doing so it has moved its communications gear out of alignment with the Earth. A picture of the craft may be able to confirm this.

It is also possible, NASA says, that it was hit by a micrometeorite, which could have knocked its antennae out of alignment.

The craft is programmed to turn its low gain antenna towards Earth if it has not received a signal for a while. This could mean it only has one solar panel in the Sun though, which would dramatically shorten its life expectancy. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.