While the Juno spacecraft grabbed all the headlines as it approached Jupiter and the US celebrated the July 4 weekend, another NASA mission wasn't faring so well.
On July 2, Mars rover Curiosity ceased science operations on the slopes of Mount Sharp after a fail safe was tripped, forcing the nuclear-powered robot into a low-power "safe mode."
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According to a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory report, preliminary information communicated by Curiosity suggests an "unexpected mismatch between camera software and data-processing software in the main computer" may have been the culprit and the rover's automated systems took over, preventing any permanent damage from being caused.
Interestingly, Curiosity has gone for a long period without experiencing an unexpected safe mode on the Martian surface. In 2013, the rover experience three separate safe mode events, but none since. It did, however, experience an electrical short in 2015 that forced a pause in science activities.
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