World Bulletin/News Desk
After flying more than 350 million miles (563 million km) from Earth, the Mars rover Curiosity is about to get its driver's license.
Mission control engineers in California will spend the next four days remotely installing new computer software in Curiosity that essentially reorients the brains of the six-wheeled vehicle for maneuvering around the surface of the Red Planet.
The nuclear-powered rover, about the size of a small sports car, can only store so much pre-programmed information in its computer module at once, having less on-board memory capacity than a typical cell phone.
Its previous flight-control software was tailored for the complex tasks of atmospheric entry, descent and landing that brought the mobile science lab to a historic touchdown on the floor of a vast, ancient impact basin called Gale Crater earlier this week.
A new version of the software, uploaded to Curiosity while it was still en route to Mars, is instead specially designed to let NASA engineers safely drive the rover, operate its robot arm, use its power drill, collect samples, sweep away dust and perform other functions as it goes about its science mission.
"Curiosity was born to drive. This software includes the capability for Curiosity to really go out and stretch her wheels," Benjamin Cichy, the rover's senior software and systems engineer, told reporters on Friday at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Los Angeles.
The new software package will be installed on Curiosity's main computer and its backup.
All other activities will be suspended for the most part during the upgrade, which was set to begin Friday night, California time, at the start of Curiosity's fifth full day on Mars. Instrument checks, picture-taking and science operations are scheduled to resume on Day 9 of the mission.
Curiosity arrived on Mars Sunday night on a quest for evidence that the planet most similar to Earth may once have harbored the basic ingredients necessary for the evolution of microbial life, or may even now be capable of supporting life.
The $2.5 billion project, formally named the Mars Science Laboratory, is NASA's first astrobiology mission since the Viking probes of the 1970s and is touted as the first full-fledged mobile biochemistry lab ever sent to a distant world.
The rover comes equipped with an array of sophisticated instruments capable of analyzing samples of soil, rocks and atmosphere on the spot and beaming results back to Earth.
The principal target of its exploration is a 3-mile- (5-kilometer) high tower of layered rock, named Mount Sharp, which is believed to have formed from sediment that once filled Gale Crater. The mound, which stands a short distance from Curiosity's landing site near the center of the crater, is seen by Mars scientists as a potential gold mine of geologic study.
An initial review of data collected from Curiosity's arrival on Mars revealed that it blasted through the planet's thin atmosphere at 24 times the speed of sound, pulling the equivalent of 11 times the force of Earth's gravity.
"If you were a human riding on board, it'd be a little bit of a rough ride, but fortunately Curiosity is made of some tough stuff," said Gavin Mendeck, who oversaw the rover's entry. It landed just 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the center of its projected landing zone.
The rover's chief engineer, Rob Manning, came closest to predicting the exact spot where Curiosity ended up touching down. He also oversaw some of the team's readiness testing.
"We think he might have rigged the system," descent and landing operations lead Allen Chen joked during Friday's news briefing.
Nobel Prize-winning scientists' discovery can be manufactured cheaper thanks to Nanografi process.
Most industry experts expect the first product of 5G technology in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
The slowdown in the rate of rising temperatures, from faster gains in the 1980s and 1990s, has puzzled scientists because heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions
The discovery challenges currently held theories that black holes and their host galaxies grew in relative lockstep over the eons.
Australian researchers are developing the new way to have a final product for Boeing Co, Airbus Group NV, very quickly than now. 3D printing can cut production times for components from three months to just six days.
Bogachev is charged in the United States with running a computer attack network called GameOver Zeus that allegedly stole more than $100 million from online bank accounts.
The account started sharing videos and photos of the militant group a few days ago
U.S., UK spies hacked SIM card maker Gemalto's system, Intercept says, giving spies ability to monitor calls on billions of phones
The next time an earthquake hits the Pacific Northwest, a handful of computers in offices across the region will have access to a software that will send out an alarm, alerting people before the earthquake strikes.
Researchers in Britain have discovered that limpet teeth exhibit a strength that is potentially higher than spider silk.
Epigenetic differences are one reason identical twins, who have identical DNA, do not always develop the same genetic diseases, including cancer.
Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria.
The makers of mobile travel app "Bey2ollak" have warn on bomb scares and resulting hold-ups in Cairo and Alexandria using the hashtag #WhereIsTheBomb.
The preschool programme, aimed at children aged between three and six, is based on the Finnish National Curriculum, widely considered one of the world's best education systems.
Kansai Electric is aiming to start the reactors by November, according to a plan submitted to the government to raise electricity prices, a spokesman said on Thursday.