Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Curiosity is taking a hiatus from its scientific mission, according to the rover's most recent Twitter update.
Last week, its computer rebooted without warning. Now, NASA engineers are trying to figure out what caused the unprompted restart.
During the reboot, a glitch caused the spacecraft's computer to go into safe mode. Scientists have since awoken the rover from safe mode, but are slowly bringing Curiosity back online.
"The rover experienced a one-time computer reset but has operated normally ever since, which is a good sign," Steven Lee, Curiosity's deputy project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in an update. "We're currently working to take a snapshot of its memory to better understand what might have happened."
Over the weekend, Curiosity relayed data that might help scientists solve the mystery, but Lee and his colleagues at JPL still aren't sure what caused the reboot or computer glitch. Scientists are proceeding with caution as they continue to mine the spacecraft's computer for clues.
"We are limiting commands to the vehicle to minimize changes to its memory," Lee said. "We don't want to destroy any evidence of what might have caused the computer reset. As a result, we expect science operations will be suspended for a short period of time."
The news of Curiosity's scientific hiatus comes just a couple weeks after NASA announced the official death of Opportunity, the longest tenured Mars rover. After nearly 15 years of Martian exploration, Opportunity stopped communicating with mission controllers during a massive dust storm. The rover never recovered.
Like Opportunity, Curiosity is a resilient rover, used to technical difficulties. In 2016, scientists were forced to suspend the rover's drilling after its drill malfunctioned. Last year, mission engineers developed a workaround drilling technique and successfully taught the rover to drill again.
The drilling hiatus lasted more than a year, but scientists are more optimistic that the current hiatus will be shorter. Until scientists can confirm the health of the rover's computer, Curiosity will continue collecting rock samples from the clay-rich region called Glen Torridon.
"The science team is eager to drill our first sample from this fascinating location," said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity's project scientist. "We don't yet understand how this area fits into the overall history of Mount Sharp, so our recent images give us plenty to think about."