Mars rover Spirit recovers after mysterious bout of amnesia

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London, Feb 4 (ANI): The Mars rover Spirit has recovered after suffering from a mysterious bout of amnesia, and is driving again this week.

Spirit's controllers are still not sure what happened to the rover on January 25, when the craft did not perform the day's instructions, which included a short drive.

According to a report in New Scientist, the rover also seemed to suffer amnesia, as it failed to record its activities in its "non-volatile memory", which is used to store data when the rover is powered down.

There is no explanation for the behaviour, but Spirit has since performed normally.

"At this time, we don't know whether the problem was a one-time event - whether it was induced by a cosmic ray - or whether it might be an indicator of ageing hardware," said project manager John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"We're staying vigilant and keeping an eye out, but right now Spirit's back to where she was," he added.

The team originally suspected the craft might not have moved because it was confused about its location, so on January 27, the team commanded the rover to orient itself by finding the Sun using just its panoramic camera.

Spirit pinpointed the Sun, but it was several degrees away from where the rover expected to find it.

The team tracked down the source of the misalignment to a slight offset in the rover's accelerometers, which are supposed to align with Mars's gravity.

But, the offset does not explain why the rover did not move, and it is not clear how long the rover has operated with the accelerometer glitch.

"The last time Spirit performed the Sun-finding exercise "blind" - with just the camera to guide it and no assumptions about its orientation - was in 2004," Callas told New Scientist. (ANI)

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