UNITED STATES SPACE AGENCY NASA has said its Mars exploration rover Curiosity is operating in 'safe mode', as files on its primary computer have been corrupted.
NASA's Curiosity rover has been operating for the best part of five months with no major problems, sending back awe-inspiring images from the Red Planet. However NASA tweeted that the rover's activities have been severely limited as it swapped over to its "B-side" computer due to memory problems with its primary "A-side" computer.
Richard Cook, Curiosity project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said the engineers are only getting started in repairing the corrupted data. He said, "We have probably several days, maybe a week of activities to get everything back and reconfigured."
Later Cook told Space.com that while the hardware NASA sends up is designed to be tolerant of radiation, there are limits.
"The hardware that we fly is radiation tolerant, but there's a limit to how hardened it can be," he said. "You can still get high-energy particles that can cause the memory to be corrupted. It certainly is a possibility and that's what we're looking into."
Cook said the corruption should not cause long-term damage to the rover or limit its ability in the future. He said NASA will look to see if it can make modifications to the software to try to protect against corruption in the future.
Curiosity can be fully operational on its backup computer but it is likely to take a few days, and in the meantime the rover is operating in safe mode. µ
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