Opportunity to get a reboot


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Because of an increasing number of computer resets on the Mars rover Opportunity, engineers plan to reformat the rover’s computer.

The resets, including a dozen this month, interfere with the rover’s planned science activities, even though recovery from each incident is completed within a day or two.

Flash memory retains data even when power is off. It is the type used for storing photos and songs on smart phones or digital cameras, among many other uses. Individual cells within a flash memory sector can wear out from repeated use. Reformatting clears the memory while identifying bad cells and flagging them to be avoided.

Obviously there is a risk, though small, that this action will not work and the mission will end here. Stay tuned.

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2 comments

  • Pzatchok

    I don’t remember the other two rovers having this much trouble.

    Why would they change systems and major hardware for this rover when the old ones have proven effective and reliable for 5 to 10 years now?

    I have run systems for years without reformatting.

  • It appears you didn’t read the article. They describe how Spirit had exactly this problem and they solved it in this exact same way. Curiosity has also had computer problems that have been solved in a variety of similar ways.

    Also, they aren’t changing “systems” or “major hardware.” They are only doing a reformat of the rover’s flash memory. It carries risk, but this is software that can get corrupted over time. Reformatting can clean it up.

    Third, your comment makes it sound like you think we are discussing a new rover not yet on Mars. This is Opportunity, which was supposed to have a life span of only 90 days and has now been running on Mars for more than a decade. A reformat at this point seems quite reasonable to me.

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