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NASA Hopes A Hack Will Overcome Mars Rover's Memory Gap

ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

You know how it goes - you're getting a little older, your memory starts to go, you forget where you put the car keys or whether you've turned off the oven. And you can't remember what happened to all the telemetry data you collected while exploring the surface of Mars. All right, you might not experience that last one, but NASA's Mars rover, Opportunity, is experiencing what NASA scientists are calling amnesia. Opportunity has been on the planet's surface for more than a decade. That's pretty old in rover years. And it's having problems with one of its memory banks. When the rover tries to save data to that faulty bank, the data gets lost, or worse - it reboots and forgets the commands NASA has been sending it. NASA's working on a software hack to make the rover ignore the defective memory bank and once they get it fixed, they're hoping Opportunity can hold on just a little bit longer before it bites the red dust. The project manager told "Discovery News" that some of Opportunity's most important explorations could be just ahead in the Marathon Valley. The Marathon Valley, by the way, is named that because the rover will have rolled more than 26.2 miles across Mars if it makes it. Not bad for an old fella. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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