Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's gone rogue!

That, or the Martians got tired of it driving all over their yards....

Photobucket
On the 1,800th Martian day of its mission, NASA’s Spirit rover blanked out, and it remains a bit disoriented.

Mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported Wednesday that the Spirit had behaved oddly on Sunday — the 1,800th Sol, or Martian day, since Spirit’s landing on Mars in January 2004.

[snip]

On that day, the Spirit acknowledged receiving its driving directions from Earth, but it did not move.

More strangely, the Spirit had no memory of what it had done for that part of Sol 1800. The rover did not record actions, as it otherwise always does, to the part of its computer memory that retains information even when power is turned off, the so-called nonvolatile memory. “It’s almost as if the rover had a bout of amnesia,” said John Callas, the project manager for the rovers.

[snip]

On Monday, mission controllers told the Spirit to orient itself by locating the Sun in the sky with its camera, and it reported that it had been unable to do so. Dr. Callas said the camera did actually photograph the Sun, but it was not quite in the position the rover expected.

One hypothesis is that a cosmic ray hit the electronics and scrambled the rover’s memory. On Tuesday, the rover’s nonvolatile memory worked properly.

The Spirit now reports to be in good health and responds to commands from Earth.
Right. Just watch what kind of messages it starts sending back from now on out: Mars is a really awful place, and: No, there aren't any life forms about, and: Humans should never travel there....

6 comments:

Steve Bates said...

Martian 1: The Earthlings are getting bored. It's time to stir up something to hold their interest.

Martian 2: Execute Plan 42.

Martian 1: You don't mean... Life? the Universe? EVERYTHING?

Martian 2: Uh, oops. I meant Plan 43, the one named after Earth's American president of the same number...

Bryan said...

It just had a senior moment, give the little 'droid a break.

ellroon said...

Martian 1: That one went so rogue we couldn't contain it. Tried to shut it down using the pretzel recall and the faulty bikes, but no go. Took us eight years but we've finally gotten it under control....

ellroon said...

Bryan, reminds me of that joke about old age and memory but I can't recall it...

Steve Bates said...

Well, there's the one about the elderly German bassoonist who was supposed to bring his instrument to the rehearsal, but he Fagott...

ellroon said...

Oh boe!