January 23, 2004
God Dammit! Mars Rovers are supposed to:
a) Miss Mars completely -OR-
But Spirit decided to:
d) Land safely, operate properly for weeks, then ceace to function for no reason.
Well, there's hope. There's some chance it's a software issue. Memory corruption. Memory corruption is very bad for a computer. It usually means the software has a memory leak or is using uninitalized memory. Both are bad, bad, bad. However, if it is a problem like that, the good news is that they may be able to reboot the whole system (and hopefully reestablish contact afterward) and all will be well. (Well, not really. The software will still be buggy, but maybe they can continue to work around it.)
Speaking as a Software Engineer, I'd hate to be one of Spirit's Software Engineers right now. Looking through every line of code with the horrible fear that I'll discover a memory leak I wrote that destroyed a Mars mission.