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NASA Mars rover Curiosity back to work after mystery snafu

It's science time for the Curiosity rover once again.

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity checks out the Midland Valley outcrop area.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

While the rover body count has piled up on Mars, there's one wheeled machine that's still kicking. NASA's Curiosity rover is getting back to work after an unexpected mini-vacation caused by a unknown glitch two weeks ago.

Mars fans first suspected something was up when mission updates went silent and no new raw images appeared on the rover site for a week. NASA announced last Friday that the rover experienced a "hiccup during boot-up" and went into a protective safe mode. 

The news was worrying, but NASA successfully rebooted the rover many times and declared it to be in good working condition. A mission update issued on Thursday says the rover is now "back in action."

Curiosity is checking out an intriguing outcrop nicknamed "Midland Valley" in the Gale Crater. The science team is planning a closer look at a "beautiful chunk of rock" spotted by the rover. Curiosity is also transmitting fresh raw images taken this week.

"The engineering team is working hard to understand the issue that occurred on sol 2320, and upcoming plans will be dedicated to diagnostic activities," writes rover team member and planetary scientist Melissa Rice.

The mysterious boot-up issue is just the rover's latest challenge. It survived a memory glitch in late 2018 and is managing some wheel damage caused by the rough Mars landscape. 

Curiosity landed on Mars in 2012 and will have to run for quite a few more years to match the longevity of its now-defunct sibling Opportunity rover.