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Curiosity gets an OS upgrade, plans new round of selfies

Mars OS V.11 imbues rover with enhanced store-and-forward powers

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NASA's laser-armed, nuclear-powered space tank Curiosity has upgraded its operating system.

The rover will trundle into the new year running version 11 of its system software, which NASA says “brings expanded capability for using the Curiosity's robotic arm while the vehicle is on slopes. It also improves flexibility for storing information overnight to use in resuming autonomous driving on a second day”

The upgrade didn't go smoothly. First attempted in November, the new OS unexpectedly rebooted the rover, which reverted to version 10. NASA's since debugged the software and tried again last week before declaring v.11 good to last Friday.

One of the new OS' first tasks will be to take some new selfies. This round of images isn't narcissistic: Curiosity has been visiting rocky ground of late and mission scientists are worried that's not been good for its six aluminium wheels. By snapping some close-ups of its wheels, NASA's astroboffins hope to learn more about how they cope with the Martian surface. That will, in turn, help to plan future sojourns so they can be designed with the craft's longevity as a consideration. ®

Bootnote It's coming too late for Christmas, but LEGO will release a Curiosity set on January 1st.

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