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Curiosity Rover Is Back to Science on Mars

The Curiosity rover captured this photograph of itself and its surroundings on Mars on Feb. 10, 2019, before a temporary glitch paused the craft's science activity.
The Curiosity rover captured this photograph of itself and its surroundings on Mars on Feb. 10, 2019, before a temporary glitch paused the craft's science activity.
(Image: © NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

After a brief staycation caused by a technical glitch, the Curiosity rover is back to gathering data on a clay-rich region of Mars, according to a NASA statement released today (Feb. 28).

The problem occurred during a routine boot-up on Feb. 15, according to the agency's announcement of the issue on Feb. 22. Between the glitch and that disclosure, Curiosity underwent 30 more boot-up procedures without issue, but the team still wasn't quite sure what had gone wrong. The robot's engineers paused the rover's science work to avoid overwriting information about the glitch.

"Curiosity has returned to science operations and is once again exploring the clay unit," the statement reads. "The mission's engineering team is continuing to study the computer reset experienced by the rover on Feb. 15. No other issues have arisen since then."

The statement suggests that the rover engineers haven't quite pinpointed what happened but have the information they need to let science work resume.

And the rover's science team is raring to go, since Curiosity just drove to a new area on Mars that features intriguing clay-rich rock. The neighborhood is named Glen Torridon and is located a little south of Curiosity's last home, the more cliff-inclined Vera Rubin Ridge.

Glen Torridon is a particularly intriguing area because clay minerals can form only in wet conditions — and chances are, any life on Mars would be equally dependent on water.

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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