Christmas Blues The flash memory issue has grown into a bigger problem than losing valuable data, however.
As the rover attempts to save data to the flash memory, and is repeatedly unsuccessful, its software forces the rover to reboot. If a sequence of commands is sent to the rover, it will keep rebooting over and over again, forgetting what the previous command instructed the rover to do.
"Basically the rover stops what it was doing because it wasn't sure what caused the reset," said Callas. "So that interrupts our science mission on the surface of Mars.
"It's like you're trying to drive on a family trip - the car stalls out every 5 minutes. You don't make much progress that way!"
And now the rover team's worse nightmare has reared its ugly head - Opportunity stopped communicating with Earth over the Christmas break.
ANALYSIS: Rover Opportunity Celebrates Mars Spring Power Boost
As the NASA team went into the Christmas holidays, a series of 3 sol (Mars day) plans gave the rover a sequence of commands to work on. On the first sol, the rover would operate as expected, but come the second and third sols, not only would the rover not execute the rest of the commands, it stopped talking to mission control.