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Curiosity to switch computers in effort to restore operations

The Curiosity engineering team have decided to switch on-board computers in effort to figure out why the rover has been unable to store and send any data since September 15.

After reviewing several options, JPL engineers recommended that the rover switch from Side B to Side A, the computer the rover used initially after landing.

The rover continues to send limited engineering data stored in short-term memory when it connects to a relay orbiter. It is otherwise healthy and receiving commands. But whatever is preventing Curiosity from storing science data in long-term memory is also preventing the storage of the rover’s event records, a journal of all its actions that engineers need in order to make a diagnosis. The computer swap will allow data and event records to be stored on the Side-A computer.

Side A experienced hardware and software issues over five years ago on sol 200 of the mission, leaving the rover uncommandable and running down its battery. At that time, the team successfully switched to Side B. Engineers have since diagnosed and quarantined the part of Side A’s memory that was affected so that computer is again available to support the mission. [emphasis mine]

As indicated by the highlighted paragraph, the switch does carry some risk. Though they say they have isolated the problems with the A computer, they might be surprised when they turn it on.

Meanwhile, silence continues from Opportunity. After fourteen years of almost continuous rover operations on Mars, the United States have been roverless now for more than two weeks.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

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7 comments

  • Jollster

    Im sure you meant Mars Bob, not the moon

  • BSJ

    I’d bet cosmic radiation, and maybe even solar minimum played a role in the latest glitch.

  • born01930

    BSJ…Which glitch? Curiosity’s or the Z-Mans? I think we can let him slide once or twice every solar cycle. ;-)

  • Jollster: Oy. My brain is clearly not been well attached to my fingers in recent days. Post fixed.

  • Chris

    BLame it on neutrinos from the center of the sun Bob.

  • wayne

    “The electronic brain controlling NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has far less horsepower than the microchips typically found in a modern smart phone….the RAD750 PowerPC microprocessor built into the rover’s redundant flight computers has one enormous advantage: It was engineered to be virtually impervious to high-energy cosmic rays that would quickly cripple an iPhone or laptop computer.”

    “The radiation-hardened single-card computers, built by BAE Systems in Manassas, Va., are designed to withstand charged ions and protons in interplanetary space or on the surface of Mars that can physically damage integrated circuits or trigger so-called “bit flips” in which the logic of the computer can be temporarily, or even permanently, disrupted.”

    “The rover is equipped with two computers, but only one is active at a time. Both are built around a radiation-hardened BAE RAD750 microchip operating at up to 200 megahertz. Each computer is equipped with 2 gigabytes of flash memory, 256 megabytes of random access memory and 256 kilobytes of erasable programmable read-only memory.”

    “Vic Scuderi, BAE business manager for satellite electronics, said in an interview. “The ultimate goal is one upset is allowed in 15 years. An upset means an intervention from Earth — one ‘blue screen of death’ in 15 years. We typically have contracts that (specify) that.”

    https://www.cnet.com/news/slow-but-rugged-curiositys-computer-was-built-for-mars/
    (2012)

  • wayne

    >highly interesting stuff!

    https://www.baesystems.com/en-us/our-company/inc-businesses/electronic-systems/product-sites/space-products-and-processing/about-space-products-and-processing

    BAE Systems Radiation Hardened Electronics for Space
    2013
    [https://youtu.be/wbXuycSNyRY]
    3:09

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