NASA’s Mars rover has a memory issue.

 

 

 

 

Considering that the rover is millions of miles away, traveling about collecting samples on another planet, this makes repairs a little bit tricky. For now, the rover has been placed in “safe mode” while the NASA team in charge of operations attempts to troubleshoot the problem.

 

Fortunately, like many spacecraft, Curiosity has a backup plan.

 

 

Obviously, you don’t send a multimillion dollar instrument across the solar system without planning for technological issues and system failures. Thus, the rover was equipped with a pair of computers, just in case one was to experience errors. Each of the computers, A-side and B-side, also have redundant subsystems that are linked to just that computer. Consequently, errors from one computer should not affect the operations of the other.

 

NASA scientists state that the problem is related to a glitch in flash memory, which is linked to the other (now-inactive) A computer. This means that Curiosity is now hibernating in its B-side. Scientists noticed the problem when Curiosity did not send recorded data as scheduled. Instead, it sent only current status information (information regarding its systems and operations). This status information revealed that the A computer had not switched to the daily “sleep” mode when planned.

 

Magdy Bareh, leader of the mission’s anomaly resolution team, stated that the team is working on a way to correct the errors with the A-side (trying to find a way to restore this side so that it can be used as a viable backup if the need arises) while they are attempting to resume operations on the B-side.

 

These errors come at a critical time, as earlier this week the laboratory instruments inside the rover began analyzing portions of the first sample of rock powder ever collected from the interior of a rock on Mars. However, at this point, scientists do not believe that there is any reason for serious concern, and Curiosity is expected to resume normal activities in a few days.

 

We’ll keep you posted.

 

More information about Curiosity is online:
http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/

Follow the mission on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity

And on Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity

 

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This article was written by: Jolene


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