Memory Glitch Halts Research on Mars Rover

Scientists have not been able to use the unmanned exploration vehicle for scientific research since Wednesday

By Sharon Bernstein
|  Friday, Mar 1, 2013  |  Updated 10:17 AM PDT
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Memory Glitch Halts Research on Mars Rover

NASA/JPL-Caltech.

This artist concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life.

An issue with computer memory has prompted scientists to switch NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity to a backup device.

The regular onboard computer had corrupted memory, so scientists switched to the backup – also on board – Thursday afternoon, a spokesman for the Pasadena-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory said.

The computer problem forced the suspension of scientific research by the rover on Wednesday, said spokesman Guy Webster. The research will not begin again for a few more days, Webster said.

"The memory on the computer got corrupted a little bit like a corrupted file on a hard drive," said Richard Cook, project manager for the rover at JPL.

The solution? Also like the classic fix for a problem on a home computer: shut it down and then start it up again, Cook said.

Meanwhile, Cook said, scientists are working to repair the faulty computer so that it can be used as a backup for the one that is now active.

The unmanned rover is managed by scientists in Pasadena as it gathers information aimed at finding out whether microbial life ever existed on Mars.

More information about Curiosity and its mission can be found on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory website.
 

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