In Brief

NASA's Powerful Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Recovers from Recent Glitch

This artist's concept shows NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission over the Red Planet.
This artist's concept shows NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission over the Red Planet. (Image credit: NASA/JPL)

NASA's most powerful eye in the sky above Mars has bounced back from a recent computer glitch and resumed full duties observing the Red Planet. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter recovered from its March 9 glitch on March 13, mission managers said.  "The spacecraft is healthy, in communication and fully powered," said Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project Manager Dan Johnston of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., in a statement. "We have stepped up the communication data rate, and we plan to have the spacecraft back to full operations within a few days."

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, or MRO, went into standby mode on March 9 after unexpectedly undergoing a computer swap from one main computer to a backup. The spacecraft placed itself into a hibernation-like "safe mode" as a precautionary measure. "Entry into safe mode is the prescribed response by a spacecraft when it detects conditions outside the range of normal expectations," NASA officials explained in a statement. "Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has experienced unplanned computer swaps triggering safe-mode entry four times previously, most recently in November 2011. The root cause of the previous events has not been determined. The spacecraft has also experienced safe-mode entries that have not involved computer swaps." [Latest Photos from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter]

NASA launched the MRO mission to Mars in 2005, and the spacecraft entered orbit around Mars a year later. Since its 2006 arrival, MRO's mission has been extended three times, most recently in 2012.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.