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Spacecraft issue could delay MSL landing data
Posted: Tue, Jul 17, 2012, 6:53 AM ET (1053 GMT)
Mars Science Laboratory illustration (NASA/JPL) A problem with a spacecraft currently in orbit around Mars could mean that telemetry from next month's landing by NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission could be delayed by perhaps hours. NASA had expected to use the Mars Odyssey orbiter to relay data from MSL as it landed on the evening of August 5. However, officials said Monday that a problem with a reaction wheel on Mars Odyssey means the spacecraft could be out of position to relay the data live. Other spacecraft, including NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, would be in position to record the telemetry from MSL's landing, but it could take hours before it is transmitted to Earth. The issue does not affect the landing itself, and NASA officials said MSL is in good health. MSL, carrying the Curiosity rover, is scheduled to land at 10:31 pm PDT August 5 (0531 GMT August 6) near the base of the central peak, nicknamed "Mount Sharp", of Gale Crater on Mars.
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