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NASA Stops Curiosity Rover Operations Due to Communications Issues

While the eyes of the world are turned to the Perseverance Valley and the resuscitation efforts for the Opportunity rover, elsewhere on the Red Planet a new drama begins to unfold.
NASA Curiosity Rover 1 photo
As of the past weekend, NASA's other machine on Mars, the Curiosity rover, has been experiencing problems in transmitting data back to Earth, the agency said on Wednesday. Work is being conducted to fix the issue, but rocket engineers seem to be at a loss as to what is causing the problem.

“Over the past few days, engineers here at JPL have been working to address an issue on Curiosity that is preventing it from sending much of the science and engineering data stored in its memory. The rover remains in its normal mode and is otherwise healthy and responsive,” said in a blog post Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity project scientist.

According to NASA, the first time the issue became apparent was on Saturday, as the rover was going through the weekend’s exploits. Since then, communication has been very slow. Also, because Curiosity is not transmitting data, whatever it currently finds on Mars is not stored anywhere.

Because of this, engineers have decided to turn off the science instruments that were still on and are working on setting up a diagnostic of the primary computer. This diagnostic is to be made using the backup computer, a tool that suffered both hardware and software failure in the early days of the rover’s Martian adventure.

Curiosity arrived on Mars in 2012. It is the size of a small SUV, measuring 9 feet 10 inches long by 9 feet 1 inch wide (3 m by 2.8 m), and it rides on 20-inch (50.8 cm) wheels which allow it to roll over obstacles up to 25 inches (65 centimeters) high.

The rover is fitted with a drill and onboard laboratories which allow it to analyze various rock samples it collects.

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