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NASA's Curiosity back on feet after memory glitch

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Mars rover is returning to active from safe mode after a computer issue

BANGALORE, INDIA: Curiosity, the Mars rover by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has been brought back to active status from the precautionary safe mode after a memory glitch inflicted it last week.

A latest mission status report by the NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, states, "Controllers switched the rover to a redundant onboard computer, the rover's B-side computer, on Feb. 28 when the A-side computer that the rover had been using demonstrated symptoms of a corrupted memory location. The intentional side swap put the rover, as anticipated, into minimal-activity safe mode."

Upon successful recovery, it is learnt that Curiosity exited safe mode on Saturday and resumed using its high-gain antenna on Sunday.

"We are making good progress in the recovery," Mars Science Laboratory project manager, Richard Cook, of the JPL, was quoted saying. "One path of progress is evaluating the A-side with intent to recover it as a backup. Also, we need to go through a series of steps with the B-side, such as informing the computer about the state of the rover - the position of the arm, the position of the mast, that kind of information."

On February 28, a ground team for the rover switched it to a redundant on-board computer in response to a memory issue on the computer (A-side) that had been active.

An earlier status report said that the team was shifting the rover from safe mode to operational status over the next few days and was troubleshooting the condition. "The condition is related to a glitch in flash memory linked to the other, now-inactive, computer," it added.

According to some media reports, Curiosity is undergoing a complex sequence of steps to switch operations to a back-up flight computer, amid ongoing analysis to figure out how to resolve the memory corruption.

"While we are resuming operations on the B-side, we are also working to determine the best way to restore the A-side as a viable backup," a NASA status report quoted JPL engineer, Magdy Bareh, leader of the mission's anomaly resolution team, as saying.

If you are interested in knowing more about Curiosity, you can do so at http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/. Also, you can follow the Mars mission by NASA on Facebook and on Twitter.

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