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Mars Curiosity Rover Returns Back to Work: NASA

The computer swap will allow data and event records to be stored on the Side-A computer

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US shutdown delays space missions but NASA not grounded: Report,

Besides over two weeks of scientific operations, NASA Mars Curiosity rover has conducted its longest drive since experiencing a memory anomaly two months ago, pushing its total odometry to over 20 kilometers.

The rover is now located at the Red Planet’s Lake Orcadie, a site where NASA previously attempted to drill into the grey rock.

NASA had previously attempted to get rock samples using Curiosity’s drill at these sites. However, the rover’s instrument did not penetrate far enough into the bedrock to generate sufficient samples.

On Tuesday, Curiosity made a 60-metre trip to this old site.

With this latest drive, the Curiosity mission is back to business, NASA said in a statement, adding that the next drilling event will take place some time later this week.

“At this point, we’re confident we’ll be getting back to full operations, but it’s too early to say how soon,” said Steven Lee of JPL, Curiosity’s deputy project manager.

NASA, Hubble, Keplar
On Tuesday, Curiosity made a 60-metre trip to this old site. Flickr

Working on memory anomaly issue, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California had commanded the rover to switch to its second computer called the Side-A computer.

The switch will enable engineers conduct a detailed diagnosis of a technical issue that has prevented the rover’s active computer (Side B) from storing scienctific and some key engineering data since September 15, NASA said.

“We are operating on Side A starting today, but it could take us time to fully understand the root cause of the issue and devise workarounds for the memory on Side B.

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The computer swap will allow data and event records to be stored on the Side-A computer.

“We spent the last week checking out Side A and preparing it for the swap,” Lee said.

“It’s certainly possible to run the mission on the Side-A computer if we really need to. But our plan is to switch back to Side B as soon as we can fix the problem to utilise its larger memory size.” (IANS)

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Spacecraft Test Runs into Serious Problems, Smoke All Over SpaceX in Florida

"Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test"

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spaceX
Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

Thick plumes of smoke rose over a SpaceX facility in Florida during a test fire of a Crew Dragon spacecraft and the issue was serious, it could derail plans to fly astronauts aboard the capsule later this year, the media reported.

SpaceX, which was founded by billionaire businessman Elon Musk in 2002, said the craft was undergoing a “series of engine tests” at a facility in Cape Canaveral on Saturday, and something went wrong during the final stretch, CNN reported.

SpaceX will work with NASA to determine what caused the issue. No injuries were reported.

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The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules. Pixabay

“Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test,” SpaceX said in a statement.

Crew Dragon is already overdue and more delays could make things tricky for NASA.

It was scheduled to conduct a key test of its emergency abort system in June. And its first crewed mission, which will carry astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, was slated for July, though NASA recently said that timeline was under review.

space craft
Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules.

NASA has also decided to ask the private sector to design and build a new generation of spacecrafts.

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SpaceX and Boeing, which is building a vehicle called Starliner, were awarded contracts worth up to $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, in 2014. Both capsules were supposed to start flying in 2017, but they have been hampered with delays.

Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. (IANS)