While you spend your weekend watching meteors streak through the sky, the Curiosity rover is undergoing what NASA describes as a "brain transplant." Now that the rover has safely completed the flight and landing portion of its mission, it's getting a software update to help it with the next phase — exploring the surface of Mars. The update takes four days to complete — it began on the 10th and should be complete by the 13th — and will improve the rover's ability to both drive and use its robotic arm.
Curiosity will also have improved image processing abilities once the upgrade is complete to make it easier to see obstacles in its path. And the update won't just be giving the rover new abilities, it will also be removing unnecessary ones. "The flight software version Curiosity currently is using was really focused on landing the vehicle," says NASA"s Ben Cichy. "It includes many capabilities we just don't need any more." In the meantime, the Curiosity team will be analyzing the pictures that the rover has sent back so far in order to determine where it should start exploring next.