Astrogeology Science Center

Sol 405 Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Tight Spot

25 September 2013

The autonomous navigation software could not find a safe path toward the rover's goal on Sol 404, so ended up in a configuration that prevented uplink of the Sol 405 command sequences directly to the high-gain antenna from Earth. Without new instructions, the rover executed the runout sequences that are loaded with every set of commands, just in case the new sequences are not received. This was only the sixth execution of autonav during a drive, so the software parameters were set conservatively, preventing the rover from trying to back up and drive around the rocks that it considered hazardous. As more experience is gained in driving with autonav, the rover will be allowed to get itself out of such tight spots. For now, the rover is safe and the Sol 406 plan includes another drive with autonav.