The Mars Curiosity Rover is back to work after a two-day stand-down in so-called “safe mode,” according to a press release late yesterday from NASA.
If you’re reading this on a computer, then you’re probably already familiar with the annoying process of a device entering a precautionary safe mode to prevent the accidental destruction of your data. The engineers have now identified and repaired the software issue that caused the problem.
Mission Manager Jennifer Trosper announced: “We expect to get back to sample-analysis science by the end of the week.”
That’s great news for space fans who are following the mission, which made a historic announcement earlier in the month that the Curiosity rover had found definitive evidence that Mars was once suitable for at least microbial life. The water was found locked in rock in a drill site in Yellowknife Bay, a flat and very dry plain overlooked by 18,000 foot Mount Sharp. A week later, NASA re-affirmed that the rover had found more evidence of hydrated minerals in the same area.
There will be a planned interruption in communications with Curiosity during much of April because the orbit of Mars will put it directly behind the sun from the earth’s viewpoint. NASA has decided to place a moratorium on transmitting messages to the rover during that time to avoid having the commands corrupted by interference from the sun, which is energetic in radio frequencies as well as visible light.
The self-portrait of the Mars Curiosity at the first rock drilling site was taken using its robot arm to snap a series of 66 photographs from different angles to put together a complete mosaic of the scene. Hey, it’s a step up from trying to hold your cell phone at the end of your arm to grab your own photo.
Now it’s back to rock drilling for the Mars Curiosity Rover.
[drill site Mars photos courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/MSSS]
[self portrait of Mars Curiosity rover courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS]