[meteorite-list] Curiosity Rover Team Upgrades Software, Checks Wheel Wear

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Fri, 20 Dec 2013 11:28:41 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <201312201928.rBKJSf5Y000597_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Curiosity Team Upgrades Software, Checks Wheel Wear
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
December 20, 2013

Mars Science Laboratory Mission Status Report

The team operating NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Curiosity has completed
a software upgrade on the vehicle and is next planning a check of wear
and tear on the rover's wheels.

"Curiosity is now operating on version 11 of its flight software," said
Jim Erickson of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, project manager for
the NASA Mars Science Laboratory Project, which operates Curiosity.

This is the third upgrade version since Curiosity's landing on Mars16
months ago. Completing the switch from version 10 took about a week. An
earlier switch to version 11 prompted an unintended reboot on Nov. 7 and
a return to version 10, but the latest transition went smoothly.

These upgrades allow continued advances in the rover's capabilities. For
example, version 11 brings expanded capability for using the Curiosity's
robotic arm while the vehicle is on slopes. It also improves flexibility
for storing information overnight to use in resuming autonomous driving
on a second day.

An upcoming activity will be driving to a relatively smooth patch of
ground to take a set of images of Curiosity's aluminum wheels, using the
Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of the rover's arm.

"We want to take a full inventory of the condition of the wheels,"
Erickson said. "Dents and holes were anticipated, but the amount of wear
appears to have accelerated in the past month or so. It appears to be
correlated with driving over rougher terrain. The wheels can sustain
significant damage without impairing the rover's ability to drive.
However, we would like to understand the impact that this terrain type
has on the wheels, to help with planning future drives."

Curiosity's recent driving has crossed an area that has numerous sharp
rocks embedded in the ground. Routes to future destinations for the
mission may be charted to lessen the amount of travel over such rough
terrain, compared to smoother ground nearby.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity inside Gale
Crater to assess ancient habitable environments and major changes in
Martian environmental conditions. JPL, a division of the California
Institute of Technology in Pasadena, built the rover and manages the
project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

More information about Curiosity is online at
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msl, http://www.nasa.gov/msl and
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ . You can follow the mission on Facebook
at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at:
http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .

Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster at jpl.nasa.gov

Received on Fri 20 Dec 2013 02:28:41 PM PST

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