Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Mars rover 'Curiosity' getting a four-day 'brain transplant'

LOS ANGELES — After a week of transmitted dramatic photos of Mars, rover Curiosity is going to have a four-day "brain transplant."

Engineers will be updating Curiosity's software, currently primed for its flight stage, to prepare it for its Martian surface operations. The update will add two crucial functions: the ability to use the geochemistry lab's sampling system, and to drive.

The update had to wait until the rover landed because its processor, built years ago to withstand the harsh environment of interplanetary space, is limited compared with today's consumer technology, said senior software engineer Ben Cichy.

"My phone has a processor that is 10 times as fast as the processor that's on Curiosity and has 16 times as much storage as Curiosity has," Cichy said. "And my phone doesn't have to land anything on Mars."

In the meantime, as the rover goes under the digital knife, many scientists will be taking a break and getting used to their newfound fame.

"I got recognized in a pizza parlor on Wednesday," said systems engineer Allen Chen, who emceed the Mars landing.

Also Friday, engineers offered their most detailed assessment of Curiosity's landing. The craft, they said, landed roughly 1.5 miles away from its predicted touchdown zone — not bad, given that the site was more than 150 million miles away, and the projected landing zone was an ellipse 12 miles wide.

Curiosity joins Opportunity, which has been exploring craters in Mars' southern hemisphere since 2004, according to the Associated Press. Opportunity's twin, Spirit, fell silent in 2010 after getting stuck in a sand trap. Curiosity's prime mission lasts two years.

Comments

EU keeps up offer to keep Britain in despite vote to leave

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker is keeping up the offer for Britain to remain in the EU even after both sides have entered the second phase of their divorce negotiations
Updated: 4 minutes ago

Saudi Arabia to transfer $2 billion after urgent Yemen plea

Saudi Arabia to transfer $2 billion to Yemen following appeal to save the local currency from 'complete collapse'
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Pope heads to Chile indigenous area after churches burned

Pope heads to Chile indigenous area after churches burned

Pope Francis goes to Chile's Araucania region Wednesday, where several churches have been firebombed amid a long-running conflict between indigenous Mapuche and government authorities
Updated: 6 minutes ago

AP Top News at 4:17 a.m. EST

AP Top News at 4:17 a.m. EST
Updated: 6 minutes ago
Pope heads to Chile indigenous area after churches burned

Pope heads to Chile indigenous area after churches burned

Pope Francis goes to Chile's Araucania region Wednesday, where several churches have been firebombed amid a long-running conflict between indigenous Mapuche and government authorities
Updated: 6 minutes ago
Survey finds geopolitical, cyber threats key concerns in '18

Survey finds geopolitical, cyber threats key concerns in '18

The World Economic Forum says a new survey found more than nine in 10 experts are expressing concerns about worsening economic or political confrontation between world powers in 2018
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Japanese public TV says staffer sent missile alert in error

Japanese public TV says staffer sent missile alert in error

Japanese public broadcaster NHK says an erroneous alert about a North Korean missile fired at Japan was sent by a staff member who meant to transmit a different news flash
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Apple supplier denies charges of unsafe, unclean conditions

Apple supplier denies charges of unsafe, unclean conditions

Apple supplier in eastern China denies labor group allegations that workers toil for ten-hour shifts in loud, polluted conditions
Updated: 17 minutes ago

Saudi Arabia to transfer $2 billion to Yemen following appeal to save the local currency from 'complete collapse'

Saudi Arabia to transfer $2 billion to Yemen following appeal to save the local currency from 'complete collapse'
Updated: 18 minutes ago
UK citizens ask Dutch court to protect post-Brexit EU rights

UK citizens ask Dutch court to protect post-Brexit EU rights

A group of British citizens who live in the Netherlands has gone to a Dutch court in a bid to retain their EU citizenship rights after Britain completes its divorce from the bloc
Updated: 19 minutes ago