BY | March 7, 2013

NASA seems to be handling the issue well. To face solar flare 2013 NASA has reportedly put Mars Rover Curiosity on safe mode (pictures)

Attempts made to get NASA’s Curiosity rover, which is a one-ton robot, back have complicated and this has happened due to the rover being powered down to wait due to a Mars-bound solar blast.

It was on March 5 when a medium-strength flare was given a free rein to by the sun in the direction of Mars and following this the Curiosity’s handlers put the rover on standby.

There have been shutdowns for Curiosity before and this was the second in recent times. This happened after the rover just emerged from a protective ‘safe mode’ on March 2. The primary computer system was what the engineers were dealing with here.

Twitter had it all with NASA officials scribbling on rover’s behalf that ‘Storm’s a-comin’! There’s a solar storm heading for the red planet. I’m going back to sleep to weather it out’.

NASA claims that Curiosity’s design enables it to withstand such solar outbursts and if the rover team is to be believed then this has happened just as a precaution. Rover was scheduled to get back to science operations by this weekend and this could lead in the arrival of the rover getting delayed.

The Curiosity, as the name suggests, was ‘curious’ to know whether Mars’ huge Gale Crater had been capable of supporting microbial life. It had landed on Mars in August. The operation went out without any glitch. Until February 27 it was sending recorded data to Earth but that day it didn’t and as usual it failed to shift into its sleep mode as planned.

After the rover team analysed the situation, it concluded that the flash memory on Curiosity’s main or A-side computer arrangement has been impacted. So, on February 28, the next step was taken by engineers and they shifted the rover to its backup, i.e. the B-side computer. This just impelled Curiosity to go into safe mode.

Attempts are now on to fix the A-side computer and until then the operations are being carried out by the B-side computer. The scientists are of the view that a fast-moving charged particle known as a cosmic ray has caused this.

Finally, the rover team has taken a sigh of relief with Curiosity recovering. The rover left its safe mode on Saturday and the next day it started using its high-gain antenna.

Officials of the mission are confident about the glitch being fixed soon as the process is already underway. They have also stated that by this weekend, the rover will recommence its work as planned.

There can be a slight hurdle with the solar flare in way but things are expected to go as planned. The

The officials from NASA also feel that no serious impact will be borne by agency’s other robotic Mars explorers.

Scientists state that the flare accompanied by a coronal mass ejection or CME does not have an impact on Mars as it would on Earth and the reason for this is Mars lacking global magnetic fields. The CME can devastate GPS signals, power grids and radio communications for days at a stretch on Earth.

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