Major upgrade accelerates the Curiosity rover

The Curiosity rover received a major software upgrade from April 3-7 that would allow it to move faster over the surface of the Red Planet and reduce wear on its wheels, potentially increasing the duration of the mission. And these are just two of the 180 planned changes. This is the first significant software upgrade of the rover since 2016. The successful upgrade is reported by NASA.

NASA’s Curiosity rover. Image: Pinterest

One of the most important software changes has improved the maneuverability of the rover. Now Curiosity can produce and process images of the surface of Mars faster during autonomous navigation on the terrain, which significantly saves time.

“Spending less time idling between drive segments also means we use less energy each day,” said Jonathan Denison, Curiosity’s head of engineering operations.

Over the past 12 years, Curiosity’s wheels have been worn down by sharp rocks on Mars. The rover team has included an algorithm in the software upgrade that allows the rover to change its speed depending on the type of terrain. In other words, when dangerous rocks appear, the rover will move cautiously. It’s the Martian equivalent of cross-country navigation.

Other changes to the software included two new mobility commands, a new way to move the manipulators and the rover mast more easily, a general refactoring of existing code, and ways to facilitate future software fixes.

Curiosity landed on Mars in 2012. From now on, the rover is exploring the Gale Crater area on Mars. Exploring traces of ancient water, meteorites and strange rock formations is an important part of its mission.

Earlier, we reported on how Ingenuity received an upgrade to make the 37th flight over Mars.

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