The Curiosity Rover on Mars is reportedly frozen in place following a systems failure that has rendered the robot unable to determine its position and altitude.
Extreme Tech reports that the Curiosity Rover, which has explored Mars for more than seven years, has faced a number of hurdles in its time on the red planet, but its latest error may be its worst so far. The rover has reportedly suffered a systems failure that has left the robot unable to determine its position and altitude on Mars, until something can be done for the rover it is frozen in place.
The Curiosity Rover landed on Mars in 2012 and made history with its rocket sled landing system. The rover has since then crossed the Gale Crater on the planet and climbed the treacherous slopes of Mount Sharp, all the time sending data about its travels back to earth. The Rover has been instrumental in major discoveries about the red planet such as the revelation that water has previously existed on Mars.
The Curiosity can’t be controlled in real-time due to the distance between Mars and Earth, as a result, the Rover receives batches of commands which it then carries out. This means that the Rover must be aware of the state of all of its machinery and details about its environment in order to avoid obstacles. This data is stored in the Rovers onboard memory but an error that occurred several days ago has rendered the information inaccessible.
As a result, the Rover is frozen in place to avoid damaging itself but is still communicating information to the team back on earth. NASA has reportedly been able to develop a set of instruction that in theory should help the rover to get moving again, but the space agency is already working on the development of a Mars 2020 Rover which is planned to launch this summer and arrive on Mars in 2021.