Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mars Rover Opportunity Slips Into Standby Mode, NASA Says

Mars Rover Opportunity Slips Into Standby Mode, NASA Says 

“Our current suspicion is that Opportunity rebooted its flight software, possibly while the cameras on the mast were imaging the sun,” Opportunity project manager John Callas, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., explained in a statement Monday (April 29).

“We found the rover in a standby state called automode, in which it maintains power balance and communication schedules, but waits for instructions from the ground,” Callas added. “We crafted our solar conjunction plan to be resilient to this kind of rover reset, if it were to occur.”

Opportunity’s handlers prepared new commands Monday designed to spur the rover into resuming operations, mission team members said.

The golf-cart-size Opportunity landed on Mars more than nine years ago along with its twin, Spirit, on a three-month mission to search for signs of past water activity on the Red Planet. The two rovers found plenty of such evidence, and then kept trundling across Mars. Spirit was declared dead in 2010, but Opportunity is still going strong.