Bogged down software could explain Spirit's ailment
BY SPACEFLIGHT NOW
Posted: January 25, 2004

The group working to unravel the glitch with Spirit and return the rover to action has narrowed the possible cause of its trouble to three potentials, officials said Sunday afternoon.

"Spirit is still serious but we are moving toward guarded condition now," rover project manager Pete Theisinger said. "I think we got a patient well on the way to recovery."

The rover experienced a problem last Wednesday, disrupting communications with Earth and halting all science activities. The breakdown happened while Spirit was performing a calibration of motors on the Mini-TES instrument.

"The leading theory is that the file management software module in the software has gone to some condition that it could not cope with -- that it was not robust enough for the operations we were engaged in when we had the flaw on Wednesday," Theisinger said.

On Saturday, engineers began focusing on the rover's flash memory and the way the software communicates with the computer memory. To get the rover operating, it was told to avoid using the flash memory for now.

On Sunday, the team was able to reset Spirit's computer to the non-flash utilization mode, Theisinger said. Also Sunday, the ongoing diagnostics determined the flash memory hardware aboard the rover to be healthy.

"There are two other theories that are not as well in competition but cannot be discounted, and they are being worked by anomaly subteams," Theisinger added.

"One is there was some kind of error or hardware issue on the motor control board. That's the circuit board with the electronics that control the motors. That's being examined.

"Also...there was a solar event Wednesday and the timing of that is being looked at with respect to correlation to the onset of our problems. The flash memories are sensitive to high-energy ions and neutrons when they are being read from and written to, and we were certainly engaged in a lot of that activity that day."

Theisinger remains hopeful that Spirit will resume its exploration adventure of Gusev Crater by mid-February.

"I think we've got a patient well on the way to recovery, and I think we have a very good chance now we will have a very good rover when we are done getting this thing back up. Although, once again, it will take some time to make sure that we have completely characterized the problem and that we are able to check out all of the functionality on the vehicle.

"You can't take anything for granted here. So I don't expect to be driving for a couple of weeks, maybe three."

Spaceflight Now Plus
Video coverage for subscribers only:
   VIDEO: SUNDAY P.M. SPIRIT & OPPORTUNITY NEWS BRIEFING QT
   MORE: PREVIOUS MISSION COVERAGE!
   SUBSCRIBE NOW

Status quicklook
NASA has approved an extended mission for the Mars Exploration Rovers, handing them up to five months of overtime assignments as they finish their three-month prime mission.


Check the status center for complete coverage.


STS-134 Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Final Shuttle Mission Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Apollo Collage
This beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.
 U.S. STORE

STS-133 Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Anniversary Shuttle Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Mercury anniversary

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!


Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

New Station
Crew Patch


Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The Expedition 38 embroidered crew patch for the International Space Station is now available in our store!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE


Get e-mail updates
Sign up for our NewsAlert service and have the latest news in astronomy and space e-mailed direct to your desktop (privacy note: your e-mail address will not be used for any other purpose).
Enter your e-mail address:
MISSION STATUS CENTER

INDEX | PLUS | NEWS ARCHIVE | LAUNCH SCHEDULE
ASTRONOMY NOW | STORE

ADVERTISE

© 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.