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Mars orbiter suffering instrument problems
Posted: Thu, Feb 8, 2007, 7:24 AM ET (1224 GMT)
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter illustration (NASA/JPL) Two instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft, including its high-resolution camera, have encountered problems affecting their performance, the space agency announced Wednesday. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on MRO is generating an increasing amount of noise in one CCD detector, and similar problems have been noticed in several other CCDs in the camera. The problem has caused on a small degradation of image quality, but engineers are concerned the problems could worsen and are studying the root cause of the noise and ways to mitigate it. A separate instrument, the Mars Climate Sounder, has been skipping steps as it scans the horizon. While the problem was initially corrected with the uplink of revised instructions, the problem reappeared in mid-January. Engineers have stowed the instrument as they attempt to determine its cause. Despite these problems MRO continues to return large volumes of data: since November 2006 the spacecraft has returned as much data as the Mars Global Surveyor did during its entire mission, from 1997 to 2006.
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