Curiosity rover exits 'safe mode'

March 20, 2013 by Guy Webster
This self-portrait of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity combines 66 exposures taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the 177th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (Feb. 3, 2013). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

( —NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has returned to active status and is on track to resume science investigations, following two days in a precautionary standby status, "safe mode."

Next steps will include checking the rover's active computer, the B-side computer, by commanding a preliminary free-space move of the arm. The B-side computer was provided information last week about the position of the robotic arm, which was last moved by the redundant A-side computer.

The rover was switched from the A-side to the B-side by engineers on Feb. 28 in response to a memory glitch on the A-side. The A-side now is available as a back-up if needed.

"We expect to get back to sample-analysis science by the end of the week," said Curiosity Mission Manager Jennifer Trosper of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Engineers quickly diagnosed the software issue that prompted the safe mode on March 16 and know how to prevent it from happening again.

Other upcoming activities include preparations for a moratorium on transmitting commands to Curiosity during most of April, when Mars will be passing nearly directly behind the sun from Earth's perspective. The moratorium is a precaution against interference by the sun corrupting a command sent to the rover.

NASA's Laboratory project is using Curiosity and the rover's 10 to investigate environmental history within Gale Crater, a location where the project has found that conditions were long ago favorable for . JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Explore further: Next Mars rover nears completion

More information: More information about Curiosity is online at , and .

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not rated yet Mar 20, 2013
Finally! Go go gadget rover!
not rated yet Mar 20, 2013
Phew - good job it wasn't more hardware damage!
1 / 5 (1) Mar 20, 2013
Could some country have been sending bogus commands to the rover to mess with us?
5 / 5 (1) Mar 20, 2013
Could some country have been sending bogus commands to the rover to mess with us?

Not likely. You'd need to know where to aim your signal, have a transmitter of appropriate power, know the security passwords and know the communication protocol used. If you don't know what "language" to send the commands in, you'll have no hope of controlling it. Even the simplest command would have to have all kinds of formatting and preambles to be received correctly. If you don't have that, the computer would just ignore you, thinking that the transmission was disrupted during transmission. Look at the IP communication protocol; only some of the bits transmitted are actual data. The rest are formatting.

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