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Buggy Curiosity Rover Retreats Back Into Safe Mode

Following last week’s momentous discovery that the chemistry of Mars could have once supported life, the Curiosity rover is on the fritz again. Engineers at NASA returned the rover to safe mode after noting a malfunction in its software, marking the second time in recent memory that the rover has needed to take a break and get its act together. In all fairness to Curiosity, though, finding evidence that an alien planet could once have supported life is probably tiring work, and we’re not inclined to begrudge it a little nap in the wake of its biggest news yet. Little guy is all tuckered out!

While booting into safe mode is never what you would call a “good thing” for any computer, NASA is hopeful that they’ve drawn a bead on the problem–a single corrupted file–and will have Curiosity up and roving again after just a brief delay. Richard Cook, project manager for Curiosity, said in a statement:

“This is a very straightforward matter to deal with. We can just delete that file, which we don’t need any more, and we know how to keep this from occurring in the future.”

Even if that is the case, don’t expect to see much big news coming out of the rover soon. After it gets back on its feet, Curiosity will have just a couple of days to work before a moratorium on sending commands begins on April 4th. That’s when the Earth and Mars will have the Sun almost directly between them from the Earth’s perspective, and NASA doesn’t want the power of the Sun corrupting commands it sends to the rover. We totally agree with the call, because that sounds just like how a really terrible sci fi movie would start. Why take chances, right?

(via NASA)

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