NASA's Curiosity Rover Thinks On Its Own Thanks To Aegis Update

  • Osvaldo Nunez , Design & Trend Contributor
  • Jul, 25, 2016, 03:01 PM
Tags : NASA, aegis
NASA's Mars Rover Curiosity
(Photo : YouTube/NASA) NASA's Mars rover has identified rocks that suggest the past of the red planet is not as dry as it seemed.

NASA's Curiosity rover has gained enough experience on Planet Mars to make some of its own decisions.

After four years on the planet, the rover is targeting its own rocks to blast with the laser on its ChemCam instrument. This newfound independence by the Curiosity rover is thanks to a software upgrade known as AEGIS.

AEGIS allows the rover to make key decisions when Curiosity's team on Earth is unable to reach it. NASA said this allows for the deliverance of more data in less time.

"Time on Mars is valuable and we get more data this way and we get the data much faster," said AEGIS team member Raymond Francis, a scientific applications software engineer at JPL.

The AEGIS team was also involved with NASA's Opportunity rover and were in charge of picking what targets to photograph with the vehicle's narrow-angle camera. Their job with Curiosity is a bit more advanced, and according to Sci-Tech Today, the new abilities they installed onto the rover are innovative.

"This is a new kind of thing in some ways because it's science autonomy where it's making decisions actually about science measurements, and not just about navigation or housekeeping," Francis said.

The reason why AEGIS' job is so important is because Earth and Mars' days are often out of sync, and they are, it becomes a bit difficult for the Curiosity team to reach the rover. The resulting problem is Curiosity having to wait several hours before scientists and engineers read the latest information sent by the rover and issue instructions.

Thanks to the new software, while scientists and engineers wait to receive information, the rover can do its own work.

"AEGIS can be used to ensure that you hit that small feature, and that can save you a whole day of trying again," Francis explained.

"That rover has a maximum speed of a few centimeters per second, and [ChemCam's laser] has a maximum range of seven meters, and Earth is much farther than that away," Francis said with a chuckle.

Although the Curiosity is getting older, thanks to the new AEGIS update, it will continue to grow and work efficiently. 

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