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Mars Global Surveyor in safe mode
Posted: Mon, Sep 5, 2005, 11:22 AM ET (1522 GMT)
Mars Global Surveyor NASA's Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft has entered a protective "safe mode" after encountering a problem with its onboard processing system, the BBC reported this weekend. MGS went into safe mode on August 26 when the spacecraft's backup computer tried to hand over control of the spacecraft to the primary computer. The primary computer, which had suffered a glitch in late July, was not available to take control, putting the whole spacecraft into safe mode. During safe mode the spacecraft's science instruments are turned off and controllers communicate with the spacecraft using its low-gain antenna. Project managers believe that they can regain high-gain communications with the spacecraft soon. NASA is rushing to get MGS working again because next week the spacecraft will be in prime position to observe the crash site of the Mars Polar Lander mission. Officials hope the spacecraft will be ready to take images of the site, which could help in planning for the launch of NASA's next lander mission, Phoenix, in 2007.
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