NASA scientists and engineers are reportedly trying to fix a glitch on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been on an eight year mission in Mars’ orbit. The orbiter apparently put itself into safe mode and began working on a backup, instead of the main computer.
This is not the first time the orbiter has done this, NASA says this glitch has happened six times now, but the team are not trying to just fix the issue like they did previously, they are trying to ensure it will not happen again.
Without the Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA is unable to issue commands to Curiosity and Opportunity, the two roaming machines on the planet. NASA is also unable to track information and movement from the two roamers, although this will be saved on the backup.
NASA has said there is no need to worry and the issue should be solved in a matter of days. NASA plans to send different data rate to the orbiter in order to get it back online. They will then figure out the issue causing the glitch and fix the issue.
The main transponder seems to the problem, causing the orbiter to shift to a backup. NASA has said they will not make a switch back to the main transponder, possibly using another method of communication to the orbiter.
NASA has been working on Mars for quite some time, figuring out all there is to know about the Red Planet. While they have not found any life forms on the planet, we have heard several news stories over the past few years confirming water is on Mars and the planet could have been home to life sometime.