Southern California breaking news and trends

Mars Odyssey detects an oddity, JPL opens its doors this weekend

Dr. Edward Tunstel Jr, (L), Mars Explora


A full-scale functioning model of the Mars rover in the In-situ Instrument Laboratory at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory In Pasadena.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena will be welcoming space watchers to its annual "open house" this weekend where visitors will get the first look at JPL's new Earth Science Center, closely encounter scientists and engineers, and go outer limits with high-definition imagery and 3-D videos.

On Friday, NASA announced that the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, currently orbiting Mars, put itself into a standby safe mode after a problem was detected. JPL, managing the mission from Pasadena, is currently troubleshooting the Odyssey's oddity located in a gyroscope-like device that helps control orientation.

The Odyessy, launched in 2001, is photographing the planet's surface and will play an key role when NASA's lands its newest rover in August. JPL mission manager Chris Potts said in a statement that engineers are communicating with the spacecraft and working on a plan to resume normal operations.