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Space & Astronomy

Curiosity rover switches to backup 'brain'

October 5, 2018 | Comment icon 4 comments



Curiosity is currently undergoing maintenance. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA engineers have switched over to the rover's secondary computer to help resolve a technical fault.
The long-lived rover, which has been trundling around on the surface of Mars for over six years, developed a problem last month which prevented it from recording any new science data.

Fortunately, Curiosity is equipped with two computers (known as Side A and Side B) so that if one of them develops a fault and stops working properly, the rover can continue to operate using the other.

Upon landing on Mars in 2012, the rover used Side A initially but switched to Side B in 2013 so that engineers could resolve a glitch. Now following the recent technical troubles, NASA has taken the decision to switch back to Side A so that the problem with Side B can be addressed.

"At this point, we're confident we'll be getting back to full operations, but it's too early to say how soon," said deputy project manager Steven Lee.
"We are operating on Side A starting today, but it could take us time to fully understand the root cause of the issue and devise workarounds for the memory on Side B."

Fortunately, even if Side B cannot be fixed, it should still be possible for the mission to continue.

"We spent the last week checking out Side A and preparing it for the swap," said Lee.

"It's certainly possible to run the mission on the Side-A computer if we really need to. But our plan is to switch back to Side B as soon as we can fix the problem to utilize its larger memory size."

Source: NASA.gov | Comments (4)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Chaldon 4 years ago
Side A, Side B... Ah, nostalgia.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
Too bad we don't have that ability.
Comment icon #3 Posted by pallidin 4 years ago
Oh, but we do... we have a left and right side brain (well, part of it) I also heard that dolphins, and some other marine mammals, will actually "hibernate" one side of their brain for it to "sleep", than switch so the other side can. Rule of the wild... Keep one eye open.
Comment icon #4 Posted by UFOwatcher 4 years ago
Wonder if this little feller will still be around to roll up to the first Human visitor and say, "hello"?


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