By Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld - NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is out of safe mode and back on active status after computer trouble had sidelined the vehicle for nearly a week.

The space agency reported that Curiosity is now running on its backup computer system, known as its B-side. It's been taken out of its minimal-activity safe mode and ready to return to full operation.

"We are making good progress in the recovery," said Mars Science Laboratory Project Manager Richard Cook in a statement.

"One path of progress is evaluating the A-side with intent to recover it as a backup. Also, we need to go through a series of steps with the B-side, such as informing the computer about the state of the rover -- the position of the arm, the position of the mast, that kind of information," he said.

Jim Erickson, Curiosity's deputy project manager, told Computerworld on Monday that engineers watching the rover's telemetry last week noticed certain applications would terminate mid-sequence. The cause, he noted, appears to be a file corruption.

"We are doing multiple things at the same time," said Erickson. "All we know is the vehicle is telling us that there are multiple errors in the memory. We think it's a hardware error of one type or another but the software did not handle it gracefully. We'd like to have our vehicles withstand hardware trouble and continue to function."

Now that NASA's computer specialists have fully switched the rover over onto its redundant, onboard computer system, they are trying to repair the problem on the main system. They also are attempting to shore up the rover's software so it can better withstand hardware glitches.

At this point, NASA engineers are looking to keep Curiosity running on the B-side system, while repairing the A-side so it can be on stand-by as the new backup.

NASA is on a deadline to get the rover fully functional before April 4, when communication with all Mars rovers and orbiters will end for about a month.

A solar conjunction -- when the Sun will be in the path between the Earth and Mars -- is fast approaching and will keep NASA engineers from sending daily instructions to the rover, or from receiving data and images in return.

NASA will have to send all operational instructions for that month-long span to Curiosity before the solar conjunction begins.

The rover will remain stationary in order to keep it safe while out of contact with Earth.

Curiosity, which landed on the Red Planet last August, is on a two-year mission to find out if Mars has ever had an environment that could support life, even in a microbial form.


Other Popular Articles
Order by: 
Per page: 
  • There are no comments yet
The Social Network Buzz - Comment using your Facebook, AOL, Hotmail or Yahoo! account
The Black Vault Owner/Operator
03.05.2013 (545 days ago)
Main Space
0 Subscribers
All News by Administrator
Share This Article
0 votes
Related News
A newly discovered planet in a binary star system located 3,000 light-years from Earth
Main Space
59 days ago · From Administrator
Researchers have discovered a fossilized space rock that stands out against anything seen before.
Main Space
61 days ago · From Administrator
Scientists analyzing data from NASA’s Cassini mission have firm evidence the ocean inside Saturn's largest moon, Titan, might be as salty as the Earth's Dead Sea.
Main Space
61 days ago · From Administrator
Humans doing difficult, repetitive tasks or those who need assistance with movement may soon get a helping hand
Main Space
67 days ago · From Administrator
A unidentified and mysterious piece of land has appeared out of nowhere in radar images of Saturn's giant moon, Titan, which is now being dubbed the 'magic island' .
Main Space
70 days ago · From Administrator
NASA Mars rover Curiosity on road to recovery