NASA's Curiosity faces a glitch which needs resolution before more science experiments

Curiosity ground team at NASA has put the rover on stand down and halted its science experiments.

The exact cause of Curiosity Mars rover's ailing troubles continues to be unclear. But Curiosity mission engineers are optimistic, a recent update said.

The update described what has stalled Curiosity’s science experiments since 15 September, after the last update from the rover on 6 September.

A glitch has prevented the rover from uplinking the data it collects back to Earth. Stored data that it would otherwise relay through the Mars orbiter or an antenna in the Deep Space Network, Curiosity is unable to send out at all, the report said.

The glitch first appeared Saturday night (15 September), as Curiosity was going over its tasks for the following day.

While the rover isn’t able to relay any stored information, it can still stream real-time data, according to the report. Visuals and sensor data are still being communicated to NASA engineers back on Earth.

The Curiosity rover on Mars in early June, 2018. Image courtesy: NASA

The Curiosity rover on Mars in early June, 2018. Image courtesy: NASA

“The rover remains in its normal mode… otherwise healthy and responsive.”

NASA engineers intend to use this real-time data from the rover to gauge its status at any given time and attempt to diagnose the glitch.

Another option that engineers might pursue is putting Curiosity’s backup computer to work, to diagnose the computer Curiosity currently runs on.

The backup computer on Curiosity was the rover’s primary processor for a long time till hardware and software troubles led to it being set aside. It has since been repaired, according to NASA’s update.

Until the issue is resolved, the ground team on NASA's Curiosity mission has put the rover on stand down and halted its science experiments until the team figures out what the problem is.

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