NASA's Curiosity Mars rover had a technical downside in its reminiscence final week, inflicting it to quickly lose its sense of course and freeze in its tracks. However the gifted rover restore crew on Earth has activated a repair, and Curiosity is now again.
"Midway via its final sequence of actions, Curiosity has misplaced its focus," wrote Daybreak Sumner, planetary geologist at UC Davis and member of the Curiosity science crew, in an article weblog on January 20. "Some data of his perspective was not totally proper, so he was unable to do the important security evaluation. "
Specialised software program for cover towards breakdowns operates on the entire
modules and devices (considerably just like the earth fault circuit
swap in your lavatory), and when an issue happens, the cellular stops and
sends information known as "occasion data" to Earth. When this occurs, curiosity is
programmed to not transfer or carry out scientific experiments till he hears
again from Earth.
Recordings of the occasion embrace photographs taken from its environment which offer particulars of the character of the terrain and clues to the rover. Different info allowed the crew to find out what had occurred with a view to develop a restoration plan.
This picture was taken by Curiosity's proper facet navigation digicam on Sol 2653 (January 23, 2020), after the rover. Credit score: NASA / JPL-Caltech.
"The engineers on the crew labored out a plan to tell Curiosity of his perspective and to substantiate what occurred," Sumner stated within the weblog. In a later January 21 put up, Scott Guzewich, a member of the MSL crew at NASA's Goddard Area Flight Heart, wrote that the plan adopted to make sure that Curiosity had sufficient orientation data to hold out the actions of arm and that mobility was a hit. Curiosity is now again to its repeatedly scheduled scientific actions.
In an e-mail to Universe Right now, Sumner acknowledged that she was undecided of the reason for the failure and that the JPL crew was nonetheless analyzing the info and was was making an attempt to keep away from an identical downside sooner or later.
Because the engineering crew can’t go to Mars and repair an issue, all the pieces is resolved both by sending software program updates to the cellular, or by modifying operational procedures. Through the years since Curiosity landed on Mars in August 2012, the rover crew has upgraded the rover software program with way more effectivity, failure safety and system robustness.
Detailed in Emily Lakdawalla's glorious e book, "The Design and Engineering of Curiosity: How the Mars Rover Works," Curiosity has two redundant units of avionics controlling all its features, known as sides A and B- facet. Two redundant analog energy provide modules (RPAMs) work just like the rover's cerebellum, controlling all of its important life-sustaining features: energy distribution, safety towards system failures and wake-ups / shutdowns.
This latest occasion is just not the primary time that the rover crew has confronted reminiscence issues. As of the 200th day of the rover on Mars, a rover had an issue with its flash reminiscence on the A facet, and the rover couldn’t cease correctly for the day. So as to not exhaust the batteries, the rover crew labored round the issue by asking the A-side laptop to not use half of its flash reminiscence.
"The software program has been up to date to deal with these circumstances extra
graciously, ”wrote Lakdawalla. "The cellular used the calculation of the cellular facet B
merchandise like his fundamental laptop since. Engineers corrected the flight
software program to place the A-side laptop again into service as a dependable backup after
soil 772. ”
Curiosity at Mt. Sharp, Gale Crater, Mars. To the left of the rover are two drill holes within the rocks "Aberlady" and "Kilmarie". Curiosity discovered excessive concentrations of clay within the two rocks. Picture credit score: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS
Throughout the seven and a half yr mission, Curiosity
overcome different issues equivalent to a brief circuit within the electronics for his drill,
wheel issues and different reminiscence issues.
"It's actually spectacular to see how nicely the crew can diagnose and
recovering glitches from rover operations on one other planet, "stated Sumner
The universe immediately. "I’ve immense respect for our crew of engineers. In
particularly, they’ve actually environment friendly processes for working collectively to
establish the easiest way to go when confronted with one thing unknown. "
Sumner added that when she handed engineering
crew discussions she was fascinated with how they share information, create
assumptions, questioning everybody's assumptions and specializing in fixing
downside, figuring out uncertainties and deciding what motion to take.
The ingenuity of the crew and the resilience of the rover allowed the mission to succeed for therefore lengthy, permitting the rover to be the eyes and the fingers of a world crew. About 500 terrestrial scientists. Their aim is to grasp how Mars has developed over billions of years and to find out whether or not it was – and even now – able to supporting microbial life.
Curiosity is presently climbing a Mars mountain three.four miles (5.5 km) excessive that scientists name Mount. Sharp (formally referred to as Aeolis Mons) which sits in the course of the Gale crater, an affect basin 96 miles (155 km) in diameter.
Observe extra mission updates on NASA's Curiosity mission replace web site.