Mars Curiosity Rover is out of safe mode and while not in full science mode it is sending engineering images back to Earth. In February a memory issue prompted controllers to switch to the B-side or backup computer. Controllers are currently evaluating the A-Side computer and memory to understand the failure. In addition to determine if the A-side is available as a backup. After the manually initiated safe mode and the systems were being configured to run the rover on this backup computer a software issue caused an automatic transition into safe mode, but the rover remained on the B-side computer. This second issue however was well understood and controllers were confident they could quickly recover.
The rover is now once again sending images back to Earth and should resume science operations soon. Mars Curiosity Rover has been on Mars since landing on August 6th 2012. It has been on Mars for 255 Sols, or Martian days. It’s cousin the Mars Opportunity rover just celebrated 10 years on Mars.
The first images from the second self induced safe mode started to return to Earth on March 22nd. If full operation is not restored by April 9th we may not see full return to operations until approximately April 26th. This is due to a Sun-Mars conjunction which will place the Sun between Earth and Mars. The Mars solar conjunctions that occur once about every 26 months.
During this conjunction the apparent angle between Mars and the Sun will slim to 0.4 degrees on April 17. Transmissions from Earth to the orbiters will be suspended while Mars and the Sun are two degrees or less apart in the sky with restricted commanding during additional days before and after.