Earlier this month, NASA’s Curiosity rover, which is currently prowling the surface of our neighbor Mars, went into safe mode for an unknown reason. Though NASA scientists weren’t exactly sure why Curiosity went into safe mode, it has been announced that the rover resumed full functionality as of July 9. Since then, scientists have been working to find the reason for the mishap, and now they’re saying they have a good idea of what happened.
According to an updated news post on the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory website, scientists think Curiosity went into safe mode because of a “software mismatch” that occurred when the rover was writing photographs from its cameras to its main computer. The good news is that scientists have figured out a workaround for this issue, so Curiosity can keep taking images of Mars and sending them to us. Of course, software glitches like this should be expected with any machine – especially one as advanced as the Curiosity rover – and it sounds like we’re lucky it was just a glitch and not something more serious.
The news that Curiosity had entered safe mode came around the same time NASA had given the Mars Science Laboratory Project, which is responsible for operating Curiosity from the comfort of planet Earth, a two year extension on its mission. That extension will begin on October 1, so we’ve got a lot more to look forward to from Curiosity.
As far as the rover is concerned, Curiosity finished its stated mission within its first year on the planet, finding evidence that Mars was, at one point in the distant past, home to an environment that could potentially harbor microbial life. In the time since then, Curiosity has been looking into why that environment disappeared and left us with the red planet we know and love today. Here’s to hoping Curiosity can make some more exciting discoveries now that it’s back to its old self.
SOURCE: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory