NASA: Mars rover back on the move, glitch still a mystery
After five years on the Martian surface, the rover Spirit seems to back to good health
Computerworld - While scientists still can't explain what caused one of NASA's Mars rovers to act up last weekend, they did get the rover Spirit back on the move this week.
After NASA ran a series of diagnostic tests on the Mars rover, the vehicle responded to commands and drove about a foot this past Saturday, according to information released by the space agency. The drive was supposed to be longer, but it was cut short when one of Spirit's front wheels got stuck behind a rock. The rover was expected to drive around the rock on Monday.
Spirit and its Mars rover companion, Opportunity, have been working on the Red Planet for five years, far longer then their initial estimated life span of three months.
The Mars rover Spirit started acting erratically a little more than a week ago. NASA said Spirit sent information back to Earth indicating that it had received its driving commands for the day, but it did not move. And on the same day, the rover failed to record its activities, as it normally does, into its own memory.
Then within the next two days, the rover's controllers sent the robotic machine instructions to find the sun with its camera, in the hope that that would enable Spirit to reorient itself. The rover reported back that it had found the sun but not in its expected location.
Then late last week, NASA engineers said that the robotic explorer was healthy and responding to commands again, though they were still trying to diagnose the initial problems.
Now, days later, they're still unsure what caused the glitch.
"We may not find any data that will explain what happened ... but there's no evidence that whatever happened then has recurred on subsequent [Martian days]," said Jacob Matijevic, a member of the rover engineering team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a statement. "One possibility is that a cosmic-ray hit could have temporarily put Spirit temporarily into a mode that disables use of the flash memory."
The two rovers are among the best pieces of technology that NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has ever built, said Bruce Banerdt, project scientist for the Mars Exploration Rovers, in a previous interview.
The rovers, which are both working on the Mars equator but on different sides of the planet, had their five-year anniversary on Mars last month. The machines have been sending and receiving information from Earth every day, with a team of about two-dozen programmers and engineers uploading code to guide the rovers' movements and aim their cameras. All of that information travels about 200 million miles one way, taking anywhere from five to 21 minutes to travel from one planet to the other.
Read more about App Development in Computerworld's App Development Topic Center.
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Four Myths of High-Productivity App Dev Debunked Debunk the main myths surrounding high-productivity application development and how both platforms have overcome them.
- Gartner 2013 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup/Recovery Software See why CommVault was positioned as the #1 leader in Gartner's 2013 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup/Recovery software for the 3rd year in...
- Forrester Report: CommVault is a Leader in Enterprise Backup and Recovery In this report, Forrester takes a deep dive into the evaluation criteria, how CommVault is positioned and the features and functionality that make...
- Forrester Wave for Enterprise Backup and Recovery Read this report to see how CommVault continues to outpace its competitors and why Forrester positioned CommVault Simpana as the top backup and...
On-Demand Webcast: 7 Reasons to Choose VoIP
Thinking about a new phone system for your business?
Be sure to watch this informative webcast. Steve Strauss, small business columnist for USA...
All App Development White Papers |