On Feb 13, NASA’s Opportunity rover on Mars was declared ‘dead’, leaving Curiosity as NASA’s only functioning rover left on the planet Mars. Now, all eyes turned to Curiosity in hope to continue the exploration.
But on Feb 15, NASA had to pause Curiosity’s scientific work as they try to determine what caused a mysterious ‘hiccup’ during boot-up. After analyzing the issues, NASA confirmed that Curiosity encountered a hurdle that triggered a protective safe mode. The problem was short-lived, as the JPL team were able to bring the rover out of safe mode and successfully reboot the rover over 30 times since.
Steven Lee, Curiosity’s deputy project manager at NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California said, “We’re still not sure of its exact cause and are gathering the relevant data for analysis. The rover experienced a one-time computer reset but has operated normally ever since, which is a good sign. We’re currently working to take a snapshot of its memory to better understand what might have happened.”
“In the short term, we are limiting commands to the vehicle to minimize changes to its memory. We don’t want to destroy any evidence of what might have caused the computer reset. As a result, we expect science operations will be suspended for a short period of time.”
JPL’s Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s project scientist said, “The science team is eager to drill our first sample from this fascinating location. We don’t yet understand how this area fits into the overall history of Mount Sharp, so our recent images give us plenty to think about.”
Curiosity is one of two NASA spacecraft actively studying the Martian surface. InSight, a stationary lander, reached the planet on Nov. 26; Opportunity, which ran for more than 14 years, has completed its mission.