Back on March 11, NASA was scheduled to apply two software patches to its Curiosity Mars rover after recovering from a problem with one of its on-board computers. Now the rover has run into another problem, this time with a software file error that is preventing it from performing most of its duties, though it remains in communication with the NASA team.
According to NASA, safe mode was caused by a failed command file size check, causing the rover to automatically revert into its protected mode. The rover was utilizing the B-side computer, which it switched to earlier this month when the A-side computer corrupted. The A-side computer was later restored to work as a back up for the B-side, but the rover did not switch over to it.
The incident happened late Saturday night, and has further set the rover's schedule back, this time by a few days. NASA engineers expect Curiosity to resume its mission "in a few days." Thus far, the rover has been incapacitated to some degree for most of the month, having experienced its initial computer problem and then later being put into sleep mode due to a solar flare.
This follows ahead of a 4-week moratorium on communicating with the rover that will start on April 4 due to the stars' alignment, putting the sun in such a position that it could cause interference with any transmissions sent to the rover. Fortunately, the problem is easy to solve according to Curiosity's project manager Richard Cook: "This is a very straightforward matter to deal with. We can just delete that file, which we don't need any more, and we know how to keep this from occurring in the future.