Monday, August 13, 2012

Curiosity Receives First Software Update

On Earth, millions of people might get frustrated waiting for their smartphones to receive the latest update, but in Mars things seems to go along quite a bit faster, and NASA's Curiosity is already receiving its first big software update.

But relax, unlike our earthly software updates, this one isn't due to some last minute bug that was caught by NASA's scientists... and I'm sure that NASA still remembers what happened with the Viking mission, when a bad update overwrote part of the antenna positioning routines, and effectively put an end to a mission that was going on, year after year.

This update was planned from the very beginning, and simply prepares Curiosity for its new main task: navigating and exploring Mars' surface. So, it adds enhanced navigating capabilities, that can now safely replace all the code that it was kept on its memory and devoted to its final approach and landing.
But don't think it's that simple... this update on itself is quite a feat, and will take nearly three days to send all the data to Mars (due to the daily amount of data that can be received/transmitted each day).

Meanwhile, the photo up there is one of the first high resolution photos of the surface (and also one of Curiosity's "all-terrain" wheels).

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