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Local Mad Scientists in Pasadena Do it Again
Photo by Stephanie Asher
JPL has just uploaded some brand new software to NASA's robot explorers Opportunity and Freedom, a few million miles away on Mars. These little rovers have kicked around for four years, finding evidence of water, watching the formation of clouds and dust devils, and sending back some really stunning images.
The new software will help the rovers move about on the surface, more accurately photograph atmospheric conditions, and give them the autonomy to calculate when it's safe to reach out with their robotic arms. This last bit will save nearly a day of time for every position change - as engineers now must analyze images from the rovers after any new movement, to protect sensitive instruments from smashing into things.
Since each rover has surpassed its planned lifetime by more than three years, squeezing in an extra day of research each time one moves sounds like a clever bit of work.