Between August 10th and August 13th, NASA’s Curiosity rover will spend its time receiving a software update from back home.
The transition to new software was made to make the rover better suited for the tasks ahead, including driving and the use of its robotic arm.
Both of rover’s redundant main computers will receive the new software, which has been uploaded to Curiosity’s memory during the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft's flight from Earth.
The software that Curiosity landed on Mars with was meant mainly for the first set of operations the rover performed on the Red Planet, such as landing and bringing its scientific gear online.
"We designed the mission from the start to be able to upgrade the software as needed for different phases of the mission," said Ben Cichy of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., chief software engineer for the Mars Science Laboratory mission.
"The flight software version Curiosity currently is using was really focused on landing the vehicle. It includes many capabilities we just don't need any more.
"It gives us basic capabilities for operating the rover on the surface, but we have planned all along to switch over after landing to a version of flight software that is really optimized for surface operations," he continues.
One of the main capabilities the new software version delivers to the rover is image processing to check for obstacles, which should provide it with longer drives through increased autonomy to identify and avoid potential hazards.
Additionally, the new software is meant to facilitate the use of the various tools the rover’s robotic arm has been packed with.
While Curiosity spent its first weekend on Mars transitioning to the new software, the team of scientists back home focused on analyzing images received with the rover’s surroundings.
"Researchers are discussing which features in the scene to investigate after a few weeks of initial checkouts and observations to assess equipment on the rover and characteristics of the landing site," NASA announced