NASA announced Tuesday that engineers have fixed the latest problem with the Mars Curiosity rover. The SUV sized science lab-on-wheels should be able to resume science operations this week after being down for three weeks with computer problems.
The rover suffered memory problems in one of its twin computers at the end of February. Engineers switched to the second, back up computer to run the rover in safe mode. They believed the issue resulted from stray cosmic rays corrupting files in the rover's flash memory.
Memory woes did not end there though, because last Saturday, the back-up computer suffered a memory glitch and went into standby. To fix the problem, engineers decided to command the secondary computer out of standby. They got confirmation of the successful reboot Tuesday morning. Now that it is up and running again, the secondary computer can resume troubleshooting work on the primary computer.
If all goes well, engineers will be able to send commands to the rover to operate its instruments. The rover will only receive commands for another two weeks though before it goes on another hiatus. This one is planned though, as the sun will be between the Red Planet and Earth. Its radiation could corrupt communication signals which could in turn damage Curiosity. Only a few instruments will function during the hiatus.