Fresh smarts for hardy rovers
Just as the S.S. Minnow's three-hour tour set sail three years of television adventures (called Gilligan's Island), so too have the NASA Mars Rovers
traveled way beyond initial expectations. This month, the vehicles are approaching the third anniversary
of their landings. Originally, NASA planned the units for a 90-day mission, but the Jet Propulsion Laboratory built Spirit and Opportunity so reliably they continue to operate into their fourth year of service.
Now, NASA has uploaded new software to the onboard computers. The new featureset
includes the ability to recognize certain external objects, make internal maps of the surrounding landscape and even do some basic reasoning. All of these features should help save precious bandwidth between the rovers and Earth, as well as allow the units to undertake more advanced duties.
Posted by Joab Jackson on Jan 04, 2007 at 9:39 AM