Mars rover Spirit recovers after mysterious bout of amnesia

February 4th, 2009 - 12:43 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Feb 4 (ANI): The Mars rover Spirit has recovered after suffering from a mysterious bout of amnesia, and is driving again this week.

Spirits controllers are still not sure what happened to the rover on January 25, when the craft did not perform the days instructions, which included a short drive.

According to a report in New Scientist, the rover also seemed to suffer amnesia, as it failed to record its activities in its non-volatile memory, which is used to store data when the rover is powered down.

There is no explanation for the behaviour, but Spirit has since performed normally.

At this time, we dont know whether the problem was a one-time event - whether it was induced by a cosmic ray - or whether it might be an indicator of ageing hardware, said project manager John Callas of NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Were staying vigilant and keeping an eye out, but right now Spirits back to where she was, he added.

The team originally suspected the craft might not have moved because it was confused about its location, so on January 27, the team commanded the rover to orient itself by finding the Sun using just its panoramic camera.

Spirit pinpointed the Sun, but it was several degrees away from where the rover expected to find it.

The team tracked down the source of the misalignment to a slight offset in the rovers accelerometers, which are supposed to align with Marss gravity.

But, the offset does not explain why the rover did not move, and it is not clear how long the rover has operated with the accelerometer glitch.

The last time Spirit performed the Sun-finding exercise blind - with just the camera to guide it and no assumptions about its orientation - was in 2004, Callas told New Scientist. (ANI)

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