Science

Mars rover Curiosity gets software upgrade, wheel check

PTI Washington | Updated on March 13, 2018 Published on December 22, 2013

The left-front wheel of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows dents and holes in this image taken during the 469th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars (Nov. 30, 2013). (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)   -  NASA

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity captured this 360-degree view using its Navigation Camera (Navcam) after a 17-foot (5.3 meter) drive on 477th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars (Dec. 8, 2013). (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA engineers have given Mars rover Curiosity a software upgrade and are now checking wear and tear on the one-tonne robot’s wheels caused by the rugged Martian surface.

The wheels of Curiosity rover are sustaining damage at an increasing rate, NASA said.

"Curiosity is now operating on version 11 of its flight software," said Jim Erickson of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

This is the third upgrade version since Curiosity’s landing on Mars 16 months ago. Completing the switch from version 10 took about a week, NASA said.

An earlier switch to version 11 prompted an unintended reboot on November 7 and a return to version 10, but the latest transition went smoothly.

These upgrades allow continued advances in the rover’s capabilities. For example, version 11 brings expanded capability for using the Curiosity’s robotic arm while the vehicle is on slopes.

It also improves flexibility for storing information overnight to use in resuming autonomous driving on a second day.

An upcoming activity will be driving to a relatively smooth patch of ground to take a set of images of Curiosity’s aluminium wheels, using the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of the rover’s arm.

"We want to take a full inventory of the condition of the wheels. Dents and holes were anticipated, but the amount of wear appears to have accelerated in the past month or so," Erickson said.

"It appears to be correlated with driving over rougher terrain. The wheels can sustain significant damage without impairing the rover’s ability to drive. However, we would like to understand the impact that this terrain type has on the wheels, to help with planning future drives," said Erickson.

Curiosity’s recent driving has crossed an area that has numerous sharp rocks embedded in the ground.

Routes to future destinations for the mission may be charted to lessen the amount of travel over such rough terrain, compared to smoother ground nearby.

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity inside Gale Crater to assess ancient habitable environments and major changes in Martian environmental conditions.

Published on December 22, 2013

A letter from the Editor


Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Sincerely,

Support Quality Journalism
null
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.