Ask my 5-year-old who her favourite robot is, she’ll quickly tell you “R2D2.” Press her about who her favourite real robot is, and she’ll confidently answer “Curiosity.” The SUV-sized mobile science lab who charmed the internet with its selfies may have captured her imagination, but for my money, little Opportunity has Curiosity beat, hands-down.
To date, Opportunity has exceeded its mission by somewhere near 10 years. That’s pretty old for a space robot, it seems, because the flash memory onboard Opportunity has started getting corrupted after being in use for so long. In human terms, Opportunity is having trouble turning important short-term memories into long-term ones.
Fortunately, teams at NASA are looking at a software fix to keep important telemetry out of the damaged memory blocks, so hopefully Opportunity’s mission will continue full steam ahead in a few weeks’ time.