Considering what it’s involved, Mars Rover Curiosity’s mission has been going really well. Staggeringly well. But that couldn’t last forever. The rover has hit its first real road bump with a gnarly computer failure that’s going to delay all the science-ing for at least a week.
On Wednesday of this week, one of Curiosity’s two on-board computers became corrupted, and started sending odd commands back home. And after investigation by the Curiosity “anomaly team” the decision was made to switch over all important computations from the A computer, to the back-up B. And on doing so, the rover promptly locked up into safe-mode.
It sounds bad — and in a few ways it is — but there shouldn’t be any long-term damage. The A computer was likely corrupted by some cosmic ray strikes, which has been known to happen, but it’s not a disaster. The hope is that Curiosity can be back up and running on its B-side, with A restored as a backup, in a week or so.
In the meantime, Curiosity is sitting alone on Mars, holding powdered rock from the red planet itself, unable to do anything with it. And by the time it can, the Sun could be blocking messages home for a month. But however annoying the delays, none of the damage seems to be permanent, which is all you can really ask for when your machinery is off on another planet. She’ll be up and running again eventually. [National Geographic via Slashgear]