NASA apparently had some technical difficulties with the Mars Curiosity Rover over the 4th of July weekend. The debacle all began on July 2nd.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
While the rover was supposed to be doing its thing and crawling around our solar system’s red planet, it was instead experiencing a software glitch that put the rover into a type of ‘precautionary safe mode,’ which meant that it was operating as it should have been.
This isn’t the first time this has happened; the space agency notes that this has happened another three times in the past, all occurring in the year 2013. It hasn’t happened again, until now.
NASA is reportedly just now getting back in touch with Curiosity. The rover is currently communicating with engineers once again, but it’s still not operating at peak performance just yet.
While there is no known absolute cause for the computer glitch so far, some preliminary data that NASA pulled from the rover suggests that a mismatch between the camera software and data processing software may be to blame.
Engineers are currently still downloading and processing diagnostic information during the communication, and hope to soon have Curiosity rolling on all wheels again.
Although the rover itself is built like a tank, it uses software to process the information it receives, and then that information gets beamed back to Earth for us to observe. Software can, of course, have bugs in it, as it’s made by imperfect humans.
The Mars Curiosity Rover is one of the projects that NASA recently requested an extension to. Starting this October, Curiosity will continue to roam Mars for an additional two years past its original expiration date so that NASA can learn more about the planet.
Learning as much about Mars as possible is important if we are ever to get mankind to step foot on Martian soil, a goal that NASA and SpaceX both share a common goal on. It’s hoped to come true within just a few more decades.
Source: NASA via Gizmodo