Curiosity rover suffers software glitch on Mars

curiosityroverNASA’s Mars rover Curiosity rebooted its software after an unexpected glitch late last week, but the six-wheeled robot is now doing fine on the surface of the Red Planet, NASA officials say.

The reboot – also known as a “warm reset” – occurred on Thursday (Nov. 7), less than five hours after Curiosity’s handlers had uploaded new flight software to the one-ton rover. It was the first time Curiosity had experienced such a fault-related reboot since landing on Mars in August 2012, officials said.

“Telemetry later downlinked from the rover indicates the warm reset was performed as would be expected in response to an unanticipated event,” Curiosity project manager Jim Erickson, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement.

Warm resets are triggered when a spacecraft’s flight software identifies a problem with one of its operations. While mission team members are still working to figure out what exactly happened, the glitch does not appear to pose any serious problems.

“So, that happened. Had a warm reset yestersol. I’m healthy. Spending the weekend awaiting new instructions,” NASA officials said Friday (Nov. 8) via Curiosity’s official Twitter feed, @MarsCuriosity. (A “sol” is one Martian day, which is about 40 minutes longer than a day here on Earth.)

The Curiosity rover touched down inside Mars’ huge Gale Crater on Aug. 5, 2012, kicking off a planned two-year surface mission to determine if the Red Planet has ever been capable of supporting microbial life. The robot has already achieved that goal, finding that an area near its landing site called Yellowknife Bay was indeed habitable billions of years ago.

It may be programmed to have a glitch and stop transmitting if it sees anything the public couldn’t handle. In this case, the iguana probably sneezed. 😉



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