Mars Curiosity Brain Transplant Complete

The Mars Curiosity Rover has completed its brain transplant, upgrading its operating system and apps. Now it's ready to start her exploration journey across the Gale Crater, en route to slice and dice Mount Sharp on a search to find life in the Red Planet.

The process lasted a few days and, while it may not have guaranteed a live broadcast like the landing, I'm sure the engineers in charge have cheered when the upgrade was finished successfully. Upgrading the software of a computer sitting millions of miles from your desk is not an easy task.

According to NASA, the rover is now "optimised for surface operation", which means that it would be able to start rolling through Mars and use its scientific instruments as soon as it finishes checking its hardware. In other words, Curiosity is now in the same boot and hardware check that your computer or smartphone does while restarting after a system upgrade. If it had a screen, it would be showing a shiny NASA logo right now.

The reason for the upgrade was that part of Curiosity storage was used by the software used in the entry, descent and landing phase of the mission. Now this software is useless and it has been replaced with a new programs that will handle navigational and scientific operations.

The team is also using the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera to get a perfect idea of the rover's surroundings and potential paths. Here's their last "You Are Here" image, which shows her surroundings in exaggerated color:

This color-enhanced view shows the terrain around the rover's landing site within Gale Crater on Mars. colours were enhanced to bring out subtle differences, showing that the landing region is not as colourful as regions to the south, closer to Mount Sharp, where Curiosity will eventually explore. In reality, the blue colours are more grey.

The image doesn't show Mount Sharp. but the dunes that precede it. It was taken six days after Curiosity's landing. One pixel in the image is equivalent to about 24 inches (62 centimeters).



    (touches update on my iPad)... Software update failed... (touches update on my iPad)... Software update failed... (touches update on my iPad)....... Updating..... Update failed.... (looks at the router 2 feet away).... (sigh)

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    Are budget cuts that bad at NASA they could only afford enough memory to store code for a single task. I have a spare flash drive they could of borrowed if they had of asked.

      Hahaha how bad is it! You'd think they'd power this thing with 16gb of ram, the best CPU on the market and enough space to take a billion pictures and store thousands of scientific results.

      But no, they power it with 256mb of ram and 2gb of flash storage.

      Horrible, NASA. Horrible. Not even as powerful as current iPhones.

        Or maybe the program used to control to descent and landing operation was that complex and expansive that it required major use of the rovers memory? It was not a simple task by any means. Besides, they cannot simply continue to add more and more memory to the thing, its main task is to SEND things back to us, not to store them for pickup. Large amounts of memory are not only useless, but also become a liability.

        whats the point if they dont have the bandwidth to send any of the data back?

          ^ It might be like Australian broadband, you get Kajillion mb/s download, but 1kb/s upload. :-)

          I can't get over the storage issue as well, wouldn't you think they would strap 500 SSDs to the sucker? they could even, evenly distribute them for weight ballast.

        not to mention extreme power considerations. It's not like they can just plug it in to recharge every night.

        haha jeez I hope you're joking Jon.

        The lab equipment on it is kinda more important than how much ram it has. It has enough to do the job.

        Let us know how you go sending an iPhone to analyse Mars

      Is your flash drive immune to radiation? Lets not forget that this thing is carrying nuclear material to power it for the next 20 years and probably not packing that much lead shielding. theres also cosmic radiation.

      Also, how long do you think commercial off the shelf parts like those found in our phones would last? I dont know about your phone, but my iphone 3Gs is on its last legs after about 3 years.

      Next, how much processing does curiosity really need? Its a glorified (highly glorified) remote control car. Its not going to be playing Crysis or infinity blade in its spare time. Most of the processing is probably going to be done in places other than on board the rover. Photos etc would be streamed off as soon as possible and there would be separate drives for that data.

      Lastly, redundancy, I'm assuming theres a couple of sets of "brains" for curiosity just like there are a few sets of each camera, just in case one fails, so keeping things as simple as possible to allow room for more sets of redundancy is better than having "one egg in one basket"

      Its cute to snipe at NASA with clever jibes, but I'm pretty sure they've done a lot more thinking than you and I have.

        Yeah that's liekly right - I remember when I used to work in the defence industry many moons ago that nuclear hardened and military grade stuff costs a friggin fortune.

          and - yeah, we stuck vehemently to the keep-it-simple principle

      this stuff's just hilarious. Surely some of these people are just trolling. Is anyone that clueless?

    And your iPhone can survive being shot across space and re-entry to another planet?

    Hows is your mars mission coming along powered by PC parts you bought online?

    Could you imagine the pain of the internets if this thing was powered by an APPLE or a WINDOWS or an ANDROID device........there would be fighting until the day man actually set foot *on* Mars of whos device is the better controller!!!

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