NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover Gets a Major Software Upgrade

NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover Gets a Major Software Upgrade

The rover can now do a lot more of what the workforce phone calls “thinking when driving” – some thing NASA’s latest Mars rover, Perseverance, can execute in a far more advanced way to navigate around rocks and sand traps. When Perseverance drives, it constantly snaps pics of the terrain ahead, processing them with a focused pc so it can autonomously navigate through a single continual generate.

Curiosity doesn’t have a dedicated laptop for this purpose. As a substitute, it drives in segments, halting to system imagery of the terrain following just about every section. That means it requires to start off and cease continuously around the study course of a extended travel. The new software will support the venerable rover process visuals speedier, allowing it to expend additional time on the transfer.

“This won’t let Curiosity travel as promptly as Perseverance, but in its place of halting for a entire minute following a drive phase, we’re halting for just a second or two,” explained Jonathan Denison of JPL, Curiosity’s engineering functions team chief. “Spending a lot less time idling involving generate segments also implies we use much less electricity each individual working day. And even while we’re virtually 11 years previous, we’re however implementing new concepts to use additional of our out there strength for science functions.”

Wheel Wear

The crew also wishes to retain the wellness of Curiosity’s aluminum wheels, which started displaying signs of broken treads in 2013. When engineers understood that sharp rocks were chipping absent at the treads, they arrived up with an algorithm to improve traction and lower wheel wear by altering the rover’s speed dependent on the rocks it’s rolling above.

The new software goes further by introducing two new mobility commands that decrease the quantity of steering Curiosity wants to do when driving in an arc toward a specific waypoint. With fewer steering necessary, the staff can access the drive focus on faster and lessen the wear that inherently comes with steering.

“That potential was basically dreamed up through the Spirit and Prospect times,” Denison explained. “It was a ‘nice to have’ they decided not to apply.”

Overall, the new application will streamline the undertaking of Curiosity’s human motorists, who have to generate intricate plans that contains hundreds of instructions. The computer software update will also allow them to upload software patches a lot more very easily than in previous. And it will enable engineers program the motions of Curiosity’s robotic arm more proficiently and place its “head” atop the mast far more accurately.

As with any key computer software update, there’s a sense of aid to see it functioning as designed, Denison explained.

“The concept of hitting the put in button was a little scary,” he additional. “Despite all our testing, we by no means know accurately what will occur right up until the program is up there.”

More About the Mission

Curiosity was created by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed by Caltech in Pasadena, California. JPL potential customers the mission on behalf of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For additional about Curiosity, check out: