Spirit’s murky memory

SpiritJPL engineers begin experiencing severe difficulty communicating with the Spirit Mars rover, which had successfully rolled off of its landing platform the previous week. Just as the rover is ready to begin its travels on the surface of Mars, it stops communicating with Earth, or with any orbiting spacecraft overhead. A command is transmitted to force Spirit to report its condition, and the resulting telemetry indicates that the rover has been continuously rebooting its internal computer system. By the weekend, after worries and warnings that Spirit would probably never regain 100% functionality, JPL’s engineers re-establish communications and received enough diagnostic information to narrow the problem down to Spirit’s flash memory and handling software. Engineers soon resolve the problem, transmitting instructions to work around the potentially corrupted memory, and restoring Spirit so it can continue its exploration.