For 10 years, the Mars Rover has been moving on the red planet and age has finally started taking a toll on its systems. It has started suffering from memory loss symptoms.
According to a recent statement by NASA, Opportunity, NASA’s Mars rovers which has been exploring the Martian planet is suffering memory loss symptoms in which the computer repeatedly resets and ‘amnesia events’. Memory loss problems get aggravated when the rover tries to save statistics on its flash memory storage system. The robot bypasses its flash memory and saves data on its RAM. Data saved in flash memory is safe even when the Rover powers down during reboots. However any data which is stored in the RAM is lost once the Rover shut down for reboots.
There are two types of memories on the Rover, the Volatile RAM memory and the flash memory. The volatile RAM memory cannot store data for a very long time and if needed transfers the memory to the Flash memory which then transmits the data to the Mars Odyssey satellite. NASA scientists found the flash memory was not sending the data to the Odyssey satellite once the rover comes out of the sleep-mode.
John Callas, Project manager at the Pasadena, Calif.-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory said, “The mission can continue without storing data to flash memory, and instead store data in volatile RAM. While we’re operating Opportunity in that mode, we are also working on an approach to make the flash memory usable again.”
The amnesia bug is something which was expected and is believed to be an age related issue. The sister rover Spirit had worked for six years before it went defunct, succumbing to the harsh Martian atmosphere.
NASA said in a news release last month “The team is developing a set of commands to restore usability of the flash memory through an overhaul more extensive than the reformatting that has been used so far.”