NASA rover Curiosity is back at work on Mars

Engineers bypass software glitch to get four-year-old rover awake and working again

mars curiosity rover

This is a self-portrait of the Mars rover Curiosity, which is back to work after a software glitch forced the robot into safe mode on July 2. A.I. software has been added to the rover, allowing it to make decisions on its own on objects to study further.

Credit: NASA

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover resumed work on Monday after being in safe mode for nine days.

While NASA engineers have not fixed what is thought to be the software issue that caused the robotic rover to put itself into a protective mode, they believe they pinpointed the problem.

Using information the rover transmitted back to Earth, NASA engineers determined that the problem stemmed from a "mismatch" in systems involved in transferring data.

"Science activity planning for the rover is avoiding use of that mode, which involves writing images from some cameras' memories into files on the rover's main computer," the space agency reported in an online update.

Curiosity's engineers are bypassing the software glitch by using an alternate means of handling and transmitting images.

The rover, which landed on Mars in August 2012, is now back to full operations on the lower levels of Mount Sharp.

Curiosity has been working on Mars to determine whether the planet was ever able to sustain life - even in microbial form.

The robotic rover, which is equipped with cameras, a drill and scientific instruments, successfully achieved that initial goal soon after beginning work by finding evidence of abundant ancient, fresh water lakes and rivers.

Curiosity also found evidence that Mars has key chemicals needed for life.

The rover, which has a robotic partner, Opportunity, also working on Mars, recently received a two-year extension to continue its planetary exploration.

This story, "NASA rover Curiosity is back at work on Mars" was originally published by Computerworld.