Feeds

Old-timer Odyssey to babysit Curiosity's Mars landing

10-year-old orbiter to keep an eye on rover's hidden descent

Remote control for virtualized desktops

NASA has managed to nudge veteran spacecraft Odyssey, which has been orbiting Mars since October 2001 – into a better position to pick up communications from rover Curiosity as it lands on Mars on 5 August.

NASA's Mars orbiter Odyssey

Mars orbiter Odyssey . Credit: NASA/JPL

The space agency had been a tad concerned that it wouldn't be able to talk to Curiosity at all as the Mars Science Laboratory made its way down to the Red Planet, as it can only send limited info direct to Earth once it's in the alien atmosphere. Even that limited transmission will cut off when Earth sets below the Marian horizon from the MSL's point of view.

The plan was always to have Odyssey relay the comms from Curiosity back to Earth, but on 11 July, NASA stalwart Odyssey entered safe mode and wouldn't have reached the landing area until two minutes after the rover had landed.

Yesterday, NASA beamed up the instructions for a thruster burn of about six seconds, which has pushed Odyssey six minutes further along in its Martian orbit. The craft is now operating normally again and the agency expects to hear confirmation (or not), of Curiosity's safe arrival at 06.31 BST on 6 August (22.31 PDT 5 August).

Two other orbiters are circling Mars at the moment, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the European Space Agency's Mars Express. Both of them will be recording the information from Curiosity, but only Odyssey is able to relay it immediately.

"Information we are receiving indicates the maneouvre has completed as planned," said Mars Odyssey Project Manager Gaylon McSmith. "Odyssey has been working at Mars longer than any other spacecraft, so it is appropriate that it has a special role in supporting the newest arrival." ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Rosetta science team thinks Philae might come to life in the spring
And disclose the biggest surprise of Comet 67P
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.