Friday, April 24, 2009

Science Friday: Mars rover having "amnesia"

From the Science Friday website today: "Last Friday, the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit suffered what team managers are calling a bout of temporary amnesia. Then, on Saturday, a computer onboard Spirit rebooted itself. The rover has had several other unexplained memory lapses and reboots, and the mission planners are searching for the cause. They're also hoping that changes to the rover's operating protocols might allow the rover to work around the bouts of amnesia, using different memory resources to keep operating reliably."

What's most wild and fabulous about the Spirit rover is that it's operating at all anymore! These things way exceeded their expected lifespan. I guess most people just aren't that interested in space exploration and probably think robotic exploration is the dullest, least sexy kind of all, but it blows me away every time I think about a human-made device like Spirit even successfully getting to Mars at all, much less successfully landing and then operating as intended. Now here's what would be really wicked: Spirit's "amnesia" and weird re-boots are being caused by some kind of ancient Martian consciousness that is reawakening in the planet's cold red dust!

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