Mission Update: IBEX Spacecraft Now in Contingency Mode

NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) experienced a flight computer reset during a planned contact and the spacecraft went into contingency mode on Feb. 18.

The IBEX spacecraft against the starry expanse of space. IBEX is an octagon covered in blue panels. Antennae and other detectors in gold protrude from the spacecraft.
This artist’s rendition shows the IBEX spacecraft as it studies the boundaries where interplanetary space interacts with interstellar space.
Credits: NASA

While fight computer resets have happened before, this time the team lost the ability to command the spacecraft during the subsequent reset recovery. The team also was unsuccessful in regaining command capability by resetting ground systems hardware and software.

Flight software still is running, and the spacecraft systems appear to be functional. However, while uplink signals are reaching the spacecraft, commands are not processing.

If the mission team’s efforts to find and remedy the loss of command capability remain unsuccessful, IBEX will perform an autonomous reset and power cycle on March 4.

NASA will provide additional information on IBEX following the reset unless the agency is able to find a solution before.

By Denise Hill