NASA's ironman Mars rover Opportunity, like your five-year-old PC, is about to get reformatted. Problems have been causing the aging vehicle to reboot and scientists suspect that worn-out cells in the flash memory are to blame. Opportunity's been running for 10 years despite an expected mission life of three months, so even having such problems is a bonus -- and its now-defunct twin, Spirit, had a similar procedure in 2009. Scientists will back up the rover's memory, then send a format command to prevent the bad cells from being accessed. They'll use a slower-than-normal data rate to reinstall the software, since Mars is currently 212 million miles away and the signal will take 11.2 minutes just to reach it. NASA said that Martian winds have kept the rover's solar panels surprisingly clean since it hit the ground rolling in 2004 (see the video below). As the picture above from August 10th shows, it's still doing science and exploration like a boss.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.