NASA faces new Curiosity obstacles as Mars landing approaches

Jul 17, 2012
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In just a couple short weeks, NASA's new Curiosity rover is set to land on Mars. If Apollo 13 taught us anything, however, it's that space missions don't always go as planned. Indeed, a new glitch has shown itself as we approach that August 5 landing date, and while it doesn't threaten the mission in a major way, it's still causing a lot of headaches for NASA scientists.

Apparently, NASA is having some issues getting the Odyssey - which is currently orbiting Mars - to sync up with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. After doing that, the plan was to have the Odyssey plant itself firmly above Curiosity's landing zone so it could send information on the rover's descent and landing back to Earth. Now NASA tells The LA Times that the instrument the Odyssey uses to sync up has malfunctioned, and that after one additional attempt to get the Odyssey synchronized, it still isn't working properly.

NASA isn't sure if it will make another attempt to re-sync the Odyssey before the Curiosity begins plummeting toward the surface of Mars. The good news is that even if NASA can't get Odyssey functioning properly by the time Curiosity's big moment arrives, this hiccup isn't going to affect the overall mission, instead only affecting how soon NASA knows about the Curiosity's touch down.

A delay in knowing whether or not the Curiosity landed successfully is probably going to cause some tension at NASA on August 5, but hey, it's whole lot better than having a glitch in the system screw up the entire mission, wouldn't you say?


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