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Curiosity rover successfully switches over to backup computer after memory issues

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Curiosity self portrait
Curiosity self portrait

Over the weekend a memory problem with the Mars Curiosity rover forced NASA engineers to switch it into "safe mode" so a backup system could take over. According to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, that process has proved successful and Curiosity will be back to normal operation by next week. The move to the secondary "B-side" computer began on Thursday, February 28th, with the rover exiting safe mode — with the secondary computer in control — on Saturday. It regained the ability to use its high-gain antenna the following day.

The cause behind the primary computer's memory problem has yet to be determined, but NASA does hope to restore it to some kind of working order. "One path of progress is evaluating the A-side with intent to recover it as a backup," said Richard Cook, the Mars Science Laboratory Project Manager for JPL. "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."