Image: Mars Odyssey
NASA
The Mars Odyssey spacecraft, shown here in an artist's conception, has been in orbit around the Red Planet since 2001.
updated 3/10/2009 6:56:16 PM ET 2009-03-10T22:56:16

NASA has successfully commanded the Mars Odyssey spacecraft to reboot its computer.

Mission manager Gaylon McSmith of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said the restart on Wednesday went without a hitch.

Scientists wanted to reboot the computer because they're worried that its memory may have been corrupted from years of exposure to space radiation. The spacecraft has been orbiting Mars since 2001.

McSmith says the procedure also restored the spacecraft's backup systems. Engineers hadn't been sure those would work because a power component had become inoperable.

The reboot was delayed a day after engineers noticed a temperature spike. An investigation revealed that a heater circuit was temporarily stuck in the "on" position. The heater was turned off in advance of the reboot.

The Odyssey orbiter can resume operations after several days. Its best-known instrument is the Thermal Emission Imaging System, or THEMIS for short. THEMIS and other instruments on the spacecraft have helped researchers identify huge reservoirs of water ice on the Red Planet.

This report was supplemented by msnbc.com.

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