You thought reformatting your computer was a pain? How about doing a full system backup, memory wipe and reboot on a rover 125 million miles away from Earth. That’s what NASA officials are getting ready to do.

Opportunity has been suffering from an increasing number of rests. A dozen hit the rover in August and is affecting the rover’s planned activities.

“Worn-out cells in the flash memory are the leading suspect in causing these rests,” said John Callas, Project Manager for NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Project.

The memory reformat will clear the rover’s memory and locate the bad cells. Once rebooted, the rover will avoid storing information on the bad cells.

As the rover team gets ready to reformat, they’ll download all useful data back to Earth. Then, they’ll put the rover in a mode that does not use flash memory.

NASA rovers Spirit and Opportunity have smashed expectations. The two rovers landed on the red planet back in 2004. Their missions were expected to last just three months. Spirit continued working for six years and Opportunity is still kicking. Hopefully, the reformat fixes Opportunity’s issues and it can continue exploring Mars.

Here’s a couple of my favorite pictures taken by Opportunity over the past few years.

opportunity rover 2

opportunity shadow

opportunity tracks

Image credits: NASA/JPL


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