Curiosity rover receives its first major software update, which has been exploring Mars for over a decade. 180 changes are in the update that extend the rover’s capabilities & improve its efficiency. Improved driving abilities is one of the key improvements, allowing Curiosity to cover ground more quickly.
Curiosity must stop after each segment to assess the nearby terrain & plan a safe route forward. Curiosity will be allowed by the software to process imagery much faster, reducing the time it needs to stop & consume less energy.
The update will also be beneficial to Curiosity aluminum wheels, including two new mobility commands reducing wear & tear. Installed from November to December, 2022, the R3 update was a 21.921 megabyte image split into 51 files.
Allowing for rollbacks in case of errors, the installation was carried out in multiple steps. In case the rover needs to switch to the old flight control software, R12 is still on board in a special backup memory.
Curiosity’s movement across the Martian surface will be made more efficient by the update, but it will still be slow with a top speed of less than 1 mph. The efficiency of Curiosity’s Earth-based human drivers will have improved controls by the update, & pave the way for easier operation of its robotic arm.
Curiosity will be helped by the software to roll more efficiently for years to come. In order to extend the rover’s capabilities & longevity in the harsh Martian environment, the update was planned for years & gradually designed.
Science & imaging operations of Curiosity were put “on hold” for planned software maintenance between April 3 & 7. The software update was overseen by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory which is responsible for the Mars rover missions.
On November 2, 2011, Curiosity was launched for a two-year scientific investigation mission. Curiosity is still exploring Mars & providing valuable scientific data,12 years later.
NASA’s commitment to continually improving the capabilities of its Mars rovers is demonstrated by the software update. The way Curiosity sends messages to JPL is enhanced by the update, simplifying computer code that has been altered by numerous patches over the years.
Team Chief of Curiosity engineering operations, Jonathan Denison,described the installation as a little scary, despite extensive testing. One example of the ongoing advancement in space exploration technology is the recent software update.