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Nasa to Hack Mars Rover Opportunity to Fix 'amnesia' Fault


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The Mars rover Opportunity.

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration will try to fix memory problems on the Mars rover Opportunity remotely.

Credit: U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The Mars rover Opportunity is having memory problems that are becoming more severe and causing it to reset itself, and sometimes stop communicating with mission control. The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) believes the rover's fits of "amnesia" are caused by a fault in its non-volatile memory, probably related to the hardware's age. "Which is the rover trying to use the flash memory, but it wasn't able to, so instead it uses the RAM...it stores telemetry data in that volatile memory, but when the rover goes to sleep and wakes up again, all [the data] is gone," says NASA project manager John Callas.

NASA will try to fix the problem by hacking into Opportunity's software so the rover ignores the faulty part of its flash memory, and instead writes to the working hardware. The work will take a couple of weeks.

Callas says the rover could be heading toward the end of its useful life. The initial goal was to spend three months on Mars, but the rover has been on the planet for more than a decade.

From BBC News
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