NASA Releases New High-Quality Pictures of Mars

The University of Arizona and NASA released thousands of new, high-quality pictures of Mars this week. The images show craters and basins, dunes and rocky areas, and many more geological features. The pictures were taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera this summer, reports Arizona Daily Star.

The 4-year-old orbiter has mysteriously rebooted its main computer three times this year, most recently on Aug. 26. It also inexplicably switched to a backup computer last month in a different malfunction.

During analysis of the four safe-mode events, NASA engineers have identified a vulnerability of the spacecraft to the effects of subsequent events. They are currently developing added protection to eliminate this vulnerability while they continue analysis of the string of incidents.

NASA launched the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter toward the red planet in 2005. It is the most powerful orbiter ever sent to Mars and has beamed home more data and images than all other missions to the red planet combined, reports.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, at Mars since 2006, has met the mission's science goals and returned more data than all other Mars missions combined. It completed its primary science phase of operations in November 2008 but remains an important contributor to science and to future landed missions. Continuing science observations are planned when the spacecraft is brought out of its current precautionary mode, Jet Propulsion Laboratory informs.

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