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NASA readies long-distance fix for rover's 'amnesia'

Sharon Gaudin | Jan. 9, 2015
NASA engineers are planning to send a software fix to a rover that has been working on Mars for nearly 11 years longer than expected.

This won't be the first time that scientists have had to make a long-distance fix on Opportunity.

In 2013, NASA programmers had to send new commands to Opportunity to get the rover to resume operations after it had put itself into stand-by mode. The fix worked and Opportunity was quickly back up and running.

Opportunity and its robotic twin rover, Spirit, both landed on Mars early in 2004. Both machines were designed to work in the harsh conditions for only three months.

Spirit lasted for more than seven years, only being given up for dead in 2011 after it got stuck in the dirt a year before that.

Opportunity, though, has remained working, studying the Martian surface long after scientists had expected it to stop functioning.

Early last year, the old rover sent back evidence of an ancient wet and mild environment on Mars that is much older than scientists had previously thought existed there.

It was another clue that has led scientists to believe that Mars could have once sustained life.


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