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| Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Mars Exploration Rover
Mars Rover Team Diagnosing Unexpected Behavior
On Sunday, during the 1,800th Martian day, or sol, of what was initially planned as a 90-sol mission on Mars, information radioed from Spirit indicated the rover had received its driving commands for the day but had not moved. That can happen for many reasons, including the rover properly sensing that it is not ready to drive. However, other behavior on Sol 1800 was even more unusual: Spirit apparently did not record the day's main activities into the non-volatile memory, the part of its memory that persists even when power is off.
On Monday, Spirit's controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
"We don't have a good explanation yet for the way Spirit has been acting for the past few days," said JPL's Sharon Laubach, chief of the team that writes and checks commands for the rovers. "Our next steps will be diagnostic activities."
Among other possible causes, the team is considering a hypothesis of transitory effects from cosmic rays hitting electronics. On Tuesday, Spirit apparently used its non-volatile memory properly.
Despite the rover's unexplained behavior, Mars Exploration Rovers' Project Manager John Callas of JPL said Wednesday, “Right now, Spirit is under normal sequence control, reporting good health and responsive to commands from the ground."
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology,