Tags: nasa | mars | opportunity | memory | loss

NASA Mars Opportunity Memory Loss Calls for Some New Tricks

Image: NASA Mars Opportunity Memory Loss Calls for Some New Tricks
(NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS via Getty Images, file)

By    |   Wednesday, 31 Dec 2014 06:34 AM

NASA's Mars rover Opportunity is dealing with memory loss issues after 10-plus years of research and sending spectacular photos back from the Red Planet. So now it has to learn some new tricks.

John Callas, Mars Exploration Rover project manager, told Discovery News on Monday that Opportunity's non-volatile, or flash memory, is starting to wear down after repeatedly being powered down and rebooted.

"Usually, all telemetry data is stored in the flash memory, so that when the rover powers down during the Martian night or reboots, the data remains stored – like when you turn off your digital camera, the photos remain saved to the camera’s flash card," wrote Discovery News' Ian O'Neill.

Callas said, though, that Opportunity's flash memory is waning because it has long surpassed its original purpose.

"Flash memory has a limitation on how many times you can read and write to it," said Callas. "It 'wears out' with use."

The original mission of Opportunity and its twin Spirit was supposed to last three months when it started in January 2004, reported Space.com. Despite memory problems, Opportunity has continued to chug along after Spirit went kaput in 2011.

"The problems started off fairly benign, but now they've become more serious – much like an illness, the symptoms were mild, but now with the progression of time things have become more serious," Callas told Discovery News.

"So now we're having these events we call 'amnesia,' which is the rover trying to use the flash memory, but it wasn't able to, so instead it uses the RAM … it stores telemetry data in that volatile memory, but when the rover goes to sleep and wakes up again, all (the data) is gone. So that's why we call it amnesia – it forgets what it has done," said Callas.

He added that researchers are hoping to teach Opportunity to operate on six memory banks instead of seven, thus isolating the troubled memory bank.

Despite the recent hiccup, Opportunity has been Mars' energizer bunny for Earth-bound researchers.

"Opportunity has not only surpassed all wildly extreme estimates regarding her longevity, but she has also survived five harsh Martian winters, come through an almost certain death when dust storms enveloped the Red Planet in 2007," wrote Chris Gebhardt of NASA Spaceflight.com, noting that the dust storms prevented sunlight from reaching dust-covered solar panels.


© 2017 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 
1Like our page
2Share
TheWire
NASA's Mars rover Opportunity is dealing with memory loss issues after 10-plus years of research and sending spectacular photos back from the Red Planet. So now it has to learn some new tricks.
nasa, mars, opportunity, memory, loss
392
2014-34-31
Wednesday, 31 Dec 2014 06:34 AM
Newsmax Inc.
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved