NASA’s Mars Curiosity Remembers Again
NASA had to switch its brain
Photo from NASA.gov
Over the weekend, having had its brain switched, Mars’ Curiosity Rover had a seamless 60-meter-drive to a site called Lake Orcadie on the dusty surface of the red planet.
Scientists were worried about Curiosity on Sep. 15, when it experienced glitches with its long-term memory storage that prevented it from storing some scientific and engineering data.
Fortunately, like most NASA robots, this one was designed with two, redundant computers, in this case, referred to as Side-A and Side-B, so that it can continue operations if one side experiences a glitch.
Rover switched from the Side-B brain that it had been using, back to its Side-A brain. NASA scientists can now do a detailed diagnosis of whatever is ailing the Side-B brain.
About five years ago, Curiosity had actually been using Side-A, but had a problem with it that made it uncommandable and caused it to run down its battery. So back then, NASA switched to Side-B. Since then, they’ve quarantined the problem in the Side-A brain, making it usable again.
“We spent the last week checking out Side A and preparing it for the swap,” Steven Lee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California said. “It’s certainly possible to run the mission on the Side-A computer if we really need to. But our plan is to switch back to Side B as soon as we can fix the problem to utilize its larger memory size.”
Curiosity, which was launched in 2011, is investigating Mars’ Gale Crater- a crater that may be the remnants of an ancient lake. The information it’s gathering should help scientists figure out whether the area has had life and how feasible Mars could be for human habitation in the future.