Tags: mars | rover | memory | opportunity

Mars Rover Memory Set for Upgrade After Serving NASA for 10 Years

Image: Mars Rover Memory Set for Upgrade After Serving NASA for 10 Years
In this file photo released by NASA on 25 June 2014 shows a composite image of NASA's Mars rover. (NASA/EPA/Landiv)

By    |   Tuesday, 02 Sep 2014 09:41 AM

The Mars rover named Opportunity will receive a memory upgrade after serving NASA for more than 10 years — much longer than was expected at the time of its original mission.

"The flash [memory] reformatting is a low-risk process, as critical sequences and flight software are stored elsewhere in other non-volatile memory on the rover," John Callas, project manager for NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Project, said on NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory blog.

Like an old computer that might be found on consumer desktops, Opportunity's systems have been resetting themselves, which disrupts the rover's activities for as much as a day or two as the teams scramble to bring it back online.

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"Worn-out cells in the flash memory are the leading suspect in causing these resets," Callas explained.

Opportunity was launched in 2004 with an identical twin named Spirit on similar missions that were only scheduled for three months' time. Each had 256 megabytes of flash memory. Spirit lasted six years before pooping out, and Opportunity is still trucking along. So far, Opportunity has covered more than 25 miles of Mars' dusty red surface, uncovering evidence of water that that dried up long ago, and setting a new driving distance record on the planet this July.

NASA will not be launching aid vehicles to the surface of the red planet to reformat Opportunity, but will instead be doing it remotely, from 125 million miles away.

"Preparations include downloading to Earth all useful data remaining in the flash memory and switching the rover to an operating mode that does not use flash memory," scientists wrote.

"Also, the team is restructuring the rover's communication sessions to use a slower data rate, which may add resilience in case of a reset during these preparations."

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The Mars rover named Opportunity will receive a memory upgrade after serving NASA for more than 10 years — much longer than was expected at the time of its original mission.
mars, rover, memory, opportunity
316
2014-41-02
Tuesday, 02 Sep 2014 09:41 AM
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