No worries… yet. Despite the U.S. government shutdown and cancellation of most of NASA’s activities, the space agency’s fleet of planetary spacecraft will remain on the job, including its Mars rovers and orbiters. (Read: “NASA Hit by Government Shutdown.”)
That’s good news for the armada of robots recording data streaming in from comet ISON as it swings by the red planet today. Some earlier reports on the Web erroneously stated that missions such as the Mars Curiosity rover would be put in “hibernation mode.”
Don’t expect to see any comet pictures released on NASA’s main websites during the shutdown, however. The University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Lab, a NASA contractor that runs the HiRise camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, does plan on posting the latest images as soon as tomorrow.
Late this afternoon the HiRise team sent out a reassuring tweet to their followers:
HiRISE is still open for business and updates will continue as usual.
— HiRISE (@HiRISE) October 1, 2013
While there probably will be no NASA press releases on planetary missions during this government fiasco, space buffs are hoping some team members who are not supported directly by government funds will pick up the torch and offer mission updates to the public.
— Emily Lakdawalla (@elakdawalla) October 1, 2013
Let’s hope that the information from space continues to flow to the masses.