February 18, 2012, 7:37 AM —
NASA engineers updated the software for a robotic Mars rover, correcting a more than two-month-old computer glitch while the robot hurtled through space on its way to Mars.
Late in November, NASA launched its $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory. Dubbed Curiosity, the SUV-sized super rover is on an eight-month journey to Mars with a mission to help scientists learn if life ever existed on the Red Planet.
However, a problem caused a computer reset on the rover Nov. 29, three days after launch, NASA reported last week. The problem was due to a cache access error in the memory management unit of the rover's computer processor, a RAD750 from BAE Systems.
"Good detective work on understanding why the reset occurred has yielded a way to prevent it from occurring again," said Mars Science Laboratory Deputy Project Manager Richard Cook, in a statement. "The successful resolution of this problem was the outcome of productive teamwork by engineers at the computer manufacturer and [NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory]."
Guy Webster, a spokesman for the JPL, told Computerworld that because of the processor glitch, the rover's ground team was unable to use the craft's star scanner, which is designed for celestial navigation.