tech2 News StaffFeb 25, 2019 15:28:56 IST
NASA's Curiosity rover is on a mission to make several new discoveries about the environment on Mars today and many years ago.
The Curiosity mission ran into trouble a week ago after it went into a protective 'safe mode' after a glitch in booting up. NASA engineers brought the rover out of this mode on 19 February and tested the rover's boot-up 30 times since then. The agency's Jet Propulsion Lab announced in a press release this week that Curiosity is back to normal now, relaying data and responding to commands without any issues.
"We're still not sure of its exact cause and are gathering the relevant data (to analyse)," Steven Lee, the deputy project manager for Curiosity at NASA's JPL, said in the statement.
"The rover experienced a one-time computer reset but has operated normally ever since, which is a good sign," he added.
To understand what went wrong, NASA engineers have taken a snapshot of the rover's memory to troubleshoot what might have caused the bug. This process will take up a significant amount of Curiosity's computing power and memory, which will reduce the number of science missions it takes temporarily.
Curiosity has been exploring a region of Mount Sharp called 'Glen Torridon', located inside the Gale crater on Mars, where orbiters have found a bed of 'clay minerals'. These can only be formed in water, and are of keen interest to the Curiosity science team to better understand the history of water on Mars.
Curiosity was designed to explore areas that indicate Mars once supported life — and water is a critically important part of understanding just that.
The rover has been climbing Mount Sharp since 2014 and recently reached a clay region that may offer new clues about the ancient Martian environment's potential to support life.
While engineers continue to dig into data from Curiosity's computer reset, the science team will analyse recent images and other data collected from the rover's new home, Glen Torridon. One such new development is a potential drill site that the team has spotted, 200 meters away from where the rover currently sits.
"The science team is eager to drill our first sample from this fascinating location," Ashwin Vasavada, one of Curiosity's project scientists, said in a statement.
"We don't yet understand how this area fits into the overall history of Mount Sharp, so our recent images give us plenty to think about."
While Curiosity is taking things slow, NASA's InSight lander is still actively listening to quakes and monitoring the temperature of Mars' insides.
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