Mars rover to get brain transplant

  • Updated: August 11, 2012 - 4:59 PM

This image was obtained by NASA's Curiosity rover shortly after touchdown on August 6, 2012. The controversial "blotch" is no longer visible. Image is best quality available.

Photo: Nasa, Mct - Mct

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ROVER TO GET BRAIN TRANSPLANT

Curiosity is going to have a four-day "brain transplant," an update that will give it the ability to use the geochemistry lab's sampling system, and to drive. The update had to wait until the rover landed because its processor, built years ago to withstand the harsh environment of interplanetary space, is limited, said senior software engineer Ben Cichy. "My phone has a processor that is 10 times as fast as the processor that's on Curiosity and has 16 times as much storage. ... And my phone doesn't have to land anything on Mars."

THE EARLY IMPRESSION OF MARS: GALE CRATER LOOKS 'EARTH-LIKE'

The ancient Martian crater where the Curiosity rover landed looks strikingly similar to the Mojave Desert in California with its looming mountains and hanging haze, scientists said. "The first impression that you get is how Earth-like this seems looking at that landscape," said chief scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology. He said he was struck by the landscape, which appeared diverse. There seemed to be harder material underneath the gravelly surface, he said. Mars, of course, is very different from Earth. It's a frigid desert bombarded by radiation. There are signs that it was a warmer and wetter place once upon a time. One of the goals of the $2.5 billion mission is to figure out how Mars transformed.

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