Rover's healthy, ready to break rocks

NASA has pronounced the first of two Mars Exploration Rovers in good health and once again ready to drill Martian rock.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reformatted the Spirit rover's flash memory on Wednesday. Spirit had been having performance problems since Jan. 22, and JPL diagnosed indigestion from an overwhelmingly large number of files stored in its flash memory.

Spirit and its twin, Opportunity, each have 256M of flash memory, with 227M available for files, plus 128M of RAM, said Roger Klemm, a JPL flight software developer. Since diagnosing Spirit's memory problem, JPL has been aggressively deleting unneeded files from both rovers' flash memories.

Spirit, which landed on Mars Jan. 3, is preparing to abrade a small portion of the surface of a boulder named Adirondack to study its interior composition. Opportunity, which landed Jan. 25, is now moving from its landing spot to search for evidence of past bodies of water.

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