Curiosity rover back to normal after computer problem

NASA says the Curiosity rover is returning to normal after a computer problem limited its activities.

Preparations underway to resume science experiments

This artist's rendering provided by NASA shows the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars. (NASA/Associated Press)

NASA says the Curiosity rover is returning to normal after a memory glitch limited its activities.

The space agency said Monday that the car-sized rover exited safe mode over the weekend and returned to an active status. In safe mode, the rover suspends its science activities but is still in contact with Earth.

The rover left safe mode on Saturday and began using its high-gain antenna again on Sunday.

NASA controllers switched over to a "B-side" computer on Feb. 28 when the "A-side" started showing signs of corrupted memory.

"We are making good progress in the recovery," said NASA Mars Science Laboratory project manager Richard Cook.

"One path of progress is evaluating the A-side with intent to recover it as a backup. Also, we need to go through a series of steps with the B-side, such as informing the computer about the state of the rover — the position of the arm, the position of the mast … that kind of information."

Curiosity is now preparing to resume its science experiments — perhaps by next week.

Engineers still don't know what caused Curiosity's memory glitch.

The rover was in the middle of analyzing powder from a rock into which it had recently drilled.

Curiosity has been purposely taking it slow since it landed last year in an ancient crater near the Martian equator. Scientists still plan to order the rover to head toward a mountain in the middle of the crater. The trip is expected to take at least nine months.

NASA expects the rover to be fully functional by next week.

With files from The Associated Press