Great news from Mars! On the rover Opportunyni was downloaded new software, which solved all the problems with memory, blocking the work of the mission for several months. After the software was installed on the on-board computer of the eleven-year-old rover, the device received the first task - to re-save all the available information to a protected area of the hard disk in order to successfully reformat the FLASH card on March 20.
Over the past few months, NASA's Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena, California, USA, used the rover in “no-flash” mode to store the received information in a non-volatile memory area. Prior to this, the data were stored in a memory similar to the computer’s or MacBook’s memory: only a small amount of data received in a short period could be saved, and if the device was accidentally turned off, it was completely lost. However, the work in the “without flash” mode does not mean at all that all the data obtained before the breakage was corrected was lost due to the loss of communication with the NASA orbital station.
All problems began at the end of last year, when the outdated rover began to experience problems with “memory loss”. The device finished its work, the computer rebooted and stopped responding to the requests of the researchers. All the information collected by the mission was lost, so the future fate of the rover appeared in a very gloomy tones. However, after certain interplanetary searches and troubleshooting, the mission’s engineers still managed to detect a damaged memory area and find the optimal way out of the current situation. Now the new software manages the process of storing data in 6 of the 7 areas of the memory card, preventing the use of the damaged seventh area. And according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the installation and formation were successful.
"As the last three months have shown, the rover can work productively without using the FLASH memory. However, with the flash we have more opportunities for research," said project leader John Callas from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "The rover can collect much more information than it can be sent to Earth. FLASH-memory allows us to save the most interesting information and send it to Earth in the following days."
And work on the malfunctions carried out at the most appropriate time.
Today, the mission is exploring some interesting objects at the entrance to the Marathon Valley. Another subject to study is the clay minerals that the valley abounds in. Clays are essential for a scientific understanding of the potential of the Red Planet for possible settlement, since these minerals are formed only in a moist environment.
The name of the Marathon Valley is very symbolic. It is located at a marathon distance (26, 219 miles, or 42, 195 km) from the landing point of the rover in 2004. Today, Opportunity is located 43 meters from the end point of its path. In December, John Callas provided Discovery News with information about the technical condition of the rover and its amazing achievements. “The technical condition of the rover remained at an excellent level, which is surprising, because we used it extremely intensively. We believed that its movement system would become unusable for a long time, but this has not happened yet,” said Kallas, “But it can happen in any Now, the rover can be compared with our aging parents. Most often they are in good health, make daily runs, play tennis. However, you never know what can happen at night. That is why we always limit Opportunity careful about. "
Today, the eleven-year rover has already exhausted its resource. And, perhaps, at the end of his three-month mission, he will be sent to retire.