Mars Rover Curiosity is Back in Action

    November 13, 2013

NASA today announced that Mars rover Curiosity is now out of safe mode and operating normally. The rover had rebooted into safe mode unexpectedly last week while transferring data between the rover and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Curiosity is expected to resume its exploration functions starting tomorrow, and the rover team has already begun planning for the upcoming days.

From data sent to Earth after the reboot, researchers were able to determine that a software error in a catalog file was the cause of the malfunction. The file error conflicted with new software that had been installed that same day. A fix was pushed out on Sunday, allowing the rover team to begin resuming normal planning operations.

“We returned to normal engineering operations,” said Rajeev Joshi, a Curiosity software and systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “We are well into planning the next several days of surface operations and expect to resume our drive to Mount Sharp this week.”

Curiosity is currently on a months-long trek to the base of a Martian mountain named Mount Sharp. There, researchers are hoping to the layered rock formations at the mountain to the soil and rocks the rover has already examined closer to its landing site.

Along the way the rover will be stopping at five waypoints to conduct observations and compare the landscapes found along its planned route. At the first of these waypoints, named “Darwin,” Curiosity examined small sandstone pebbles for researchers to better understand how they formed.