Curiosity rover active and drilling again after computer issue

Everyone’s favorite resident of Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover, is back in action after several weeks of diagnostic work. The rover has successfully drilled its eighteenth hole in the Mars surface, managing to extract a type of rock that a previous attempt failed to capture.

The rock drilled, called “Highfield,” is a type of grey bedrock on the Vera Rubin Ridge which is tough to drill into due to its hardness. The previous site, named “Inverness,” proved too much of a challenge for Curiosity’s drill. But the NASA team were able to pick a suitable drilling site this time by finding softer rock. They chose a new drilling site by looking at scratches left in the rock by the rover’s Dust Removal Tool and by noting the lack of fluting on the surface which is caused by wind erosion. The scratches and lack of erosion suggested that the entire rock eroded relatively quickly, meaning it was softer than previous drill sites.

The drilling resulted in the successful collection of a sample of the highest value target on Vera Rubin Ridge. But the rover won’t be resting yet, as over the next days it will perform more imaging and spectroscopy on the drill hole, and will deposit the sample in the CheMin instrument to analyze its chemistry and mineralogy.

Curiosity is up and about again after being immobilized back in September. An unknown issue prevented the rover from sending information back to Earth, although the machine was still otherwise functional. The NASA team decided to turn off all of Curiosity’s instruments while they worked through a diagnostic process. A few weeks ago in October, the Curiosity was switched to using its backup computer instead, and was able to take and send images to Earth once again.

The rover is equipped with two computers called A-side and B-side to ensure redundancy in the case of this kind of problem. Originally the rover was using the A-side when it landed on Mars in August 2012, but it had to switch to the B-side in February 2013 due to a memory problem. Curiosity has been using the B-side without issues since then, and fortunately this gave NASA enough time to patch up the A-side so it was ready to use when needed.

You can follow the Curiosity rover’s adventures on its adorable Twitter feed for a first person perspective on Mars exploration.

Emerging Tech

Watch China’s moon mission touch down on the planet’s far side

Video has been shared of a lander's-eye view of China's Chang'e 4 mission touching down in the Von Kármán Crater on the far side of the moon. The craft captured footage of the descent with a camera which was attached to the probe.

Is this the first image of a Galaxy S10 being used in real life?

It won't be long now; With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.

Transport your Nintendo Switch in style with these nifty cases

The Nintendo Switch, which boasts both wired and handheld modes, needs a good case to ensure it doesn't get beat up while you're on the go. We scoured through dozens of Switch cases to bring you the best ones.
Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.
Emerging Tech

A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs

Japan’s oddball Henn na Hotel has fired half of its 243 robot staff. The reason? Because these labor-saving machines turned out to be causing way more problems than they were solving.
Emerging Tech

CERN plans to build a massive particle collider that dwarfs the LHC

CERN already has the world's biggest particle accelerator. Now it wants a bigger one. Meet the 9 billion euro Future Circular Collider that will allow physicists to extend their study of the universe and matter at the smallest level.
Emerging Tech

Forget fireworks. Japan will soon have artificial meteor showers on tap

Tokyo-based startup Astro Live Experiences is preparing to launch its first artificial meteor shower over Japan, serving as a showcase of its prowess in the space entertainment sector.

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
Emerging Tech

Glowing space billboards could show ads in the night sky

Look up at the night sky in 2020 and you might see an ad for McDonald's floating among the stars. A Russian startup is working on a project that uses a constellation of small satellites in low-Earth orbit to create glowing ads.
Emerging Tech

New brainwave reader tells teachers if students are concentrating

Massachusetts-based startup BrainCo has developed brainwave-reading headbands which can reportedly help reveal if students are concentrating in class. Here's how they're being used.
Emerging Tech

Fears about kids’ screen use may have been overblown, Oxford researchers find

Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health. But is this true? A recent study from the University of Oxford takes a closer look.
Emerging Tech

Meet Wiliot, a battery-less Bluetooth chip that pulls power from thin air

A tiny chip from a semiconductor company called Wiliot could harvest energy out of thin air, the company claims. No battery needed. The paper-thin device pulls power from ambient radio frequencies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell signals.
Emerging Tech

Hexbot is a modular robot arm that does everything from drawing to playing chess

Who wouldn’t want their own personal robot arm to do everything from laser engraving to competing against you in a game of chess? That's what Hexbot, a new modular robot, promises to deliver.