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Mars Curiosity Rover in 'Safe Mode' After Experiencing Glitch

Jul 08, 2016 03:13 AM EDT
Diverse Terrain Types on Mount Sharp, Mars
Mars Curiosity Rover entered safe mode on July 2 according to NASA. Although stable, the engineers at NASA are working to restore full functions of the rover.
(Photo : NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS via Getty Images)

There's trouble on Mars! NASA's Curiosity Rover entered a precautionary "safe mode" on the Fourth of July weekend due to some technical glitch. But officials say that the rover is now stable and communicating with engineers on Earth as of today.

NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover is traversing the red planet in order to understand the ancient Earth-like properties of Mars before it evolved to its current state. The rover is operated under the Mars Science Laboratory of NASA. The agency said the "habitability" and other properties of the planet are written on the rocks and soil of the planet.

The rover automatically put itself in "safe mode" where minimal activities can be performed on July 2, according to NASA engineers are trying to find out why the rover entered the said mode. Preliminary data suggests that there was a mismatch between the camera software and the data-processing software in the main computer. Engineers will initiate "near-term" steps to resume full operations of the rover by requesting more diagnostic data from Curiosity.

The Curiosity entered safe mode three times in 2013 since its launch in 2012. The rover is one of the main tools in discovering Martian properties that help scientists prepare for NASA's mission to Mars in 2030.

"Mars, the mission achieved its goal by determining that, more than 3 billion years ago, the region offered fresh-water lakes and rivers with environmental conditions well-suited to supporting microbial life, if life has ever existed on Mars," a NASA official said in a statement. The rover is expected to gather more data about the ancient environment of Mars and how it evolved to its state today.

Curiosity rover is currently ascending Mount Sharp on Mars after analyzing samples from various drilling sites. The rover is expected to observed pathways of ancient water flows.

The mission was given an additional two-year mission extension starting Oct. 1 this year.


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