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NASA Mars Orbiter Repositioned To Phone Home Mars Landing



          NASA Mars Orbiter Repositioned To Phone Home Mars Landing

PR Newswire

PASADENA, Calif., July 24, 2012

PASADENA, Calif., July 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA's Mars Odyssey
spacecraft has successfully adjusted its orbital location to be in a better
position to provide prompt confirmation of the August landing of the Curiosity
rover.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO)

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft carrying Curiosity can send
limited information directly to Earth as it enters Mars' atmosphere. Before
the landing, Earth will set below the Martian horizon from the descending
spacecraft's perspective, ending that direct route of communication. Odyssey
will help to speed up the indirect communication process.

NASA reported during a July 16 news conference that Odyssey, which originally
was planned to provide a near-real-time communication link with Curiosity, had
entered safe mode July 11. This situation would have affected communication
operations, but not the rover's landing. Without a repositioning maneuver,
Odyssey would have arrived over the landing area about two minutes after
Curiosity landed.

A spacecraft thruster burn Tuesday lasting about six seconds has nudged
Odyssey about six minutes ahead in its orbit. Odyssey now is operating
normally, and confirmation of Curiosity's landing is expected to reach Earth
at about 10:31 p.m. PDT Aug. 5, as originally planned.

"Information we are receiving indicates the maneuver has been completed as
planned," said Gaylon McSmith, Mars Odyssey project manager at NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), in Pasadena, Calif. "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."

Two other Mars orbiters, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and the
European Space Agency's Mars Express, also will be in position to receive
radio transmissions from MSL during its descent. However, they will be
recording information for later playback. Only Odyssey can relay information
immediately.

Odyssey arrived at Mars in 2001. In addition to its own scientific
observations, it has served as a communications relay for NASA's Spirit and
Opportunity Mars rovers and the Phoenix lander. Spirit and Phoenix are no
longer operational. Odyssey and MRO will provide communication relays for
Curiosity during the rover's two-year prime mission.

Odyssey and MSL, with its Curiosity rover, are managed by JPL for NASA's
Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Curiosity was designed, developed
and assembled at JPL. The Odyssey spacecraft is operated by JPL and Lockheed
Martin in Denver. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built Odyssey.

For more information about Mars Odyssey, visit:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/odyssey

For information about the Curiosity landing and other NASA Mars missions,
visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/mars

SOURCE NASA

Website: http://www.nasa.gov
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