NASA Made the Mars Curiosity Rover Switch Brains

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover NASA/AP

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Repairing technical issues on a robot on another planet looks a lot like brain surgery.

Starting in September, NASA's Curiosity Rover struggled to send important scientific data back to Earth. In response, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory made the decision for Curiosity to switch to a backup computer system, which NASA refers to as its "brain."

NASA's Curiosity Rover has been exploring the surface of the red planet since it landed there in 2012.

"At this point, we're confident we'll be getting back to full operations, but it's too early to say how soon," said Steven Lee of JPL, Curiosity's deputy project manager. "We are operating on Side A starting today, but it could take us time to fully understand the root cause of the issue and devise workarounds for the memory on Side B."

Unfortunately, one of NASA's other Mars rovers is still in trouble. The Opportunity rover last contacted JPL in June, right before a massive dust storm hit Mars. On Aug. 30, NASA said it would give Opportunity until Oct. 14 to phone home and then the agency will switch to passive listening efforts to track the 15-year-old rover.